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LOGAN — A teenager from Smithfield is being called a hero for saving the lives of her uncle and cousin during a family vacation. They were at a beach in Oceanside, Calif., when they got caught in a rip tide and nearly drowned.
Megan Healy, 17, is an accomplished swimmer. She was a certified lifeguard at a recreation center in Logan, and she recently finished her last season with the Logan High swim team. She said that during the near-drowning incident, her former training kicked in when her uncle and cousin were struggling in the ocean.
"Everything's clearer when I'm in the water," Healy said. "Whenever I get in the water, I'm calm and I feel like that's where I should be."
During a family trip to California in February, Healy said she went swimming in the ocean with her uncle and 15-year-old cousin.
"We got out pretty far and we looked at each other and said, 'Let's go back in.' We were getting kind of cold," Healy said.
However, Healy said that when she reached the beach, she looked back and saw the two were still 75 to 80 yards from shore.
"We were trying to get in, but were actually getting further away, and that's terrifying when you're looking and swimming and getting tired," said Healy's uncle, Mark Healy.
When Healy reached the pair, her uncle yelled for Megan to save his daughter, Gracie, first.
"He was panicked," Healy said. "He could barely talk and he was scared. I could see it in him."
She got Gracie safely to shore and went back for her uncle, who by then, was still above water but unresponsive.
"I grabbed him under his armpit and pulled him in as fast as I could," Healy said. "Staying calm is the best thing because if you tighten up in the water, it's only going to shorten the time that you have."
Mark Healy was taken to the hospital, where doctors said he was a minute away from drowning. Mark said he doesn’t remember much from that fateful day, but he and Gracie know Megan is their hero.
"I've been swimming for my whole life and I was just there and I swam," Healy said.
Healy is headed to Utah State University in the fall on a full academic scholarship.