Grosse Pointe Farms lifeguard honored for rescuing struggling kayaker

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 23, 2019

 Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen reads a resolution in honor of Pier Park lifeguard Brandon Flaherty, left, during a July 8 City Council meeting.

Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen reads a resolution in honor of Pier Park lifeguard Brandon Flaherty, left, during a July 8 City Council meeting.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — They don’t call them “lifeguards” for nothing. One of Grosse Pointe Farms’ young lifeguards was recently honored for saving the life of a stranded kayaker.

Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen presented Pier Park lifeguard Brandon Flaherty, 18, with a resolution in his honor during a July 8 City Council meeting. Flaherty rescued a kayaker whose vessel had capsized June 3. The kayaker was flailing roughly 75 yards from the seawall in what Jensen said were rough waves and still “freezing water” at that time, due to a chillier than usual spring.

Before the meeting, Flaherty said he had just finished a rotation in the lifeguard chair when he heard that an elderly couple was in trouble in the lake.

“We deliberated (about) how best to go out there,” he said of a conversation he had with Cody Krato, the head lifeguard.

The two of them headed toward the lake and grabbed the nearest unlocked kayaks so they could paddle out toward the kayaker.

Flaherty held out his guard tube and instructed the man to grab hold of it. The lifeguard pulled the tube — and the man — toward him, until the man got to Flaherty’s kayak, at which point Flaherty asked the man to hold onto the back of the kayak. With the man clinging to the kayak, Flaherty paddled the vessel back to the seawall, where public safety officers were waiting.

“Thank you for utilizing your training and being of assistance,” Jensen told Flaherty. “You’re a great young man.”

Flaherty graduated this spring from Grosse Pointe South High School. This is his second season as a lifeguard. While others are hailing him as a hero, he doesn’t see himself that way.

“I just felt relieved that he was OK,” Flaherty said of the rescue.

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