El Segundo Cub Scout Otto Kvam is recognized for saving his younger sister’s life.
By Jenny Gardner
Otto Kvam, a 9-year-old Cub Scout with Pack 773 in El Segundo, was honored recently with Scouts BSA’s Lifesaving and Meritorious Action Award for rescuing his younger sister Mabel from the water in Manhattan Beach in 2017.
On that unforgettable day, Otto’s family was at the beach for his and his older sister’s baptism. “It was a chaotic situation,” said Eric Kvam, Otto’s father. “A big crowd of children were all playing in the surf.” Amid it all, Otto saw Mabel, who was 3 years old at the time, struggling in the waves, and he ran to her aid, pulling her out of the water as he shouted for help. “People were getting baptized,” Otto recalled. “I asked Mabel later, and she said she was trying to baptize herself. I saw her rolling backwards with her dress over her face.” He tried to get his dad’s attention but quickly decided that he needed to act. “So I ran over, and then I grabbed her. The surf was really strong, and I almost fell over on top of her, but I was just holding on.” Eric, hearing his son yelling, arrived to help Otto haul Mabel out of the water.
“I’m really grateful for Otto’s reaction, because that’s what got my attention to realize that Mabel was in distress,” Eric said. “I don’t know what would’ve happened otherwise.”
“He saved my life,” Mabel said at the ceremony, sweetly hugging and looking up at her big brother.
Photos taken by Jenny Gardner. Special thanks to the Kvam family, Michael Lipsey, and Allen Semerdjian.
This story appears in the June 2019 issue.