Updated 12/25/2012 09:54 AM
Dylan Smith, Who Surfed To Save Lives During Sandy, Drowns In Puerto Rico
Belle Harbor residents mourned the tragic death of a man who risked his life to save his neighbors during Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Michael Herzenberg has the story.
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Less than two months ago, Dylan Smith used his surfboard to save more than a half dozen lives during Hurricane Sandy.
But this weekend, Smith died surfing in Puerto Rico.
He was 23.
Ray Marten now owes Smith a debt he never can repay.
"It was kind of a punch in the gut," Marten said.
Marten is the father of Lauren, a 13-year-old that Smith saved in the storm.
Like so many other neighbors in Belle Harbor, Lauren Marten's house burned to the ground the night of Hurricane Sandy.
"There was just like fire, embers blowing in everybody's face," she said. "It was really scary."
"The water was probably around chest deep on me," Ray Marten said. "She couldn't make it across. She had a broken arm."
But all was not lost when a young man on a surfboard came by to help.
"I went across the street but then I couldn't stand anymore," Lauren said. "So Dylan came over and he took me on the surfboard until I could stand."
She said Dylan was a hero.
People Magazine agreed. The magazine called Smith and a man named Mike McDonnell heros of 2012.
Neighbors like Emelia Cann and friends of Smith are now trying to cope with the loss of the man who saved so many lives.
"Mike McDonnell and Dylan Smith tied a rope around this tree right in back of me and tied it to my banister," Cann said. "Dylan came out in a wetsuit and a surfboard and swam with the people back and forth and rescuing them one by one."
Friends, family and members of the FDNY came out to mourn Smith's death Monday night.
"It's been really tough on the family. He's got a younger brother Jake and his parents are wonderful -- hard working people," family friend Michael Light said. "It's just really difficult. It's been tough."
Police are still investigating the circumstances of his death.