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A Local Hero Honored

Jun 26, 2017 04:35PM ● By Becky Coburn

A Local Hero Honored

On June 24, 2016, local resident Erik Flaskerud was cliff jumping in Santa Cruz in a wet suit when he heard voices calling out for someone and saw young men looking over the water in a narrow cove. After a minute or two, Erik saw an arm come to the surface from a person floating face down. He jumped in the water, as did a surfer who happened to be walking by.

Together, Erik and the surfer turned the person over while friends on shore yelled that they were going to jump in to help. Erik yelled back to stay put; he did not want to have more rescues on his hands!

Erik and the surfer (named Aaron) pulled the young man to the shore, where onlookers helped pull him out. Luckily, two medics plus Erik’s friend Alex Tripp of Pleasant Hill, an ER tech, were on shore to help 18 year-old Caesar Martinez, who was unconscious, turning blue, and clearly drowning, with water pouring out of him. At first they felt a weak pulse, but it then stopped, and they worked valiantly on him until rescue paramedics arrived. They were able to resuscitate him, but he was taken to and remained in Stanford ICU.  He had suffered a head injury and was in a coma for a couple of days. After the hospital and rehab, Caesar was later released and he has made a full recovery. Erik kept in touch with Caesar’s family and friends and visited him in the hospital a couple of times. He was greatly relieved to see him get better.

During the incident, tourists on shore took photos, and one captured the large wave that swept Caesar in. Also on shore was a San Jose fireman who called 911 after seeing the young man walking along the cliff and disappearing after the rogue wave came in. At a recent Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting held on May 23, Erik and many others were honored for providing an outstanding team effort with Emergency Medical Services. Erik was recognized as a bystander who helped extricate an individual who fell from an ocean cliff into the sea and suffered cardiac arrest. The fireman from San Jose showed up at the supervisors’ meeting and presented Erik with the photos -- a true surprise.

Erik grew up in Pleasant Hill, lives with wife Courtney and son Caden in Martinez, and, besides loving to surf, is a realtor with RE/MAX Today in Pleasant Hill. He swam with Pleasant Hill Dolfins from age 5 through 18, swam competitively with College Park High School and DVC, played water polo for them, and became a licensed lifeguard. It was his comfort in the water and his bravery that helped save the life of Caesar Martinez.

Photo: Pictured (LtoR): Surfer Aaron, medic at scene (name?), Alex Tripp, Caesar Martinez (victim), Erik Flaskerud, San Jose Fireman who witnessed it, called 911, and brought the photos to everyone.