Student heroes recognized for saving the life of a fellow student

Lynn senior nearly died after being hit by a boat while spearfishing Labor Day weekend

Published Nov. 15, 2010

This past Labor Day weekend (Sunday, Sept. 5) three Lynn University seniors – John DeLeonibus, Benjamin Brownell and Cameron Gill – swam approximately 50 to 75 feet offshore of South Inlet Park, just south of the Boca Inlet, put up their dive flag and began spearfishing.

“It was a good day,” said John. “Then I got hit by a boat.”

John was severely injured with a depressed skull fracture, a fractured scapula, a fractured pelvis, and an open fracture of his femur. John’s story has been told in numerous local media outlets including the Palm Beach Post, the Sun Sentinel, WPTV News Channel 5 and WFLX Fox 29. However, the story of the students who saved John – Benjamin and Cameron – remains untold.

In John’s eyes, and the eyes of Lynn University, Benjamin and Cameron are heroes. They acted quickly and saved John’s life by bringing him to shore. “It was about an 8-minute swim back to shore,” said Cameron. “We met the lifeguard and ocean rescue on land.”

John has made a remarkable recovery, and he returned to classes at Lynn in October, just one month after the incident. “I’m feeling better,” said John, “but I’ll be 100 percent when I’m running again.” Prior to the accident, John was an avid marathon runner.

Humanitarian AwardLast week, Lynn recognized John, Benjamin and Cameron for their heroic efforts. Benjamin and Cameron received the university's first-ever “Humanitarian Award” presented by Phil Riordan, vice president of student life, and President Kevin M. Ross, in recognition of their bravery and courageous efforts to save the life of a fellow student. All three students were also given tickets to the Nov. 13 Miami Dolphins game.

According to Riordan, future Humanitarian Awards will be given out on a case-by-case basis.

“We came up with the idea for the award as a way to recognize the students for their commitment to a fellow student,” said Riordan. “The general public tends to only hear about the bad choices students make. It’s nice to recognize them for making the right choice."