Belle Harbor surfer who rescued residents during Sandy dies

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A Belle Harbor surfer who reportedly rescued stranded residents during superstorm Sandy has died from an apparent drowning in Puerto Rico.

The body of Dylan Smith, 23, was found floating Sunday morning near his surfboard in waters off Maria's Beach in the western Puerto Rican community of Rincon, The Associated Press reported.

The town's beaches are popular with surfers across the globe, the story said.

Several local news outlets reported early Monday that Smith and another Belle Harbor man, Michael McDonnell, 51, rescued stranded residents in the Rockaways during Sandy. Smith paddled out to them on their surfboards, and he and Moore then towed them to safety, according to a story by People magazine.

The magazine cited the two among its 2012 Heroes of the Year award winners.

"During Superstorm Sandy Oct. 29, as a 6-foot surge roared down their block and a fire from a gas line explosion engulfed houses around them, McDonnell, a sales director for Chefs Diet, and Smith, a lifeguard, ushered six people to safety with a homemade rope bridge and Smith's surfboard," the story said.

Neighbor Katie Cregg, whom the pair helped, told the magazine: "Michael just took charge. He looked me straight in the eye, and I knew then and there we were going to be OK. And then the kid with the surfboard arrived like an angel, and everyone's spirits lifted."

Police in Puerto Rico identified Smith as the drowned surfer in a statement on Sunday, the AP story said.

Authorities say a local resident spotted Smith in the water and brought him to shore. A local doctor tried to resuscitate him but the surfer showed no signs of life.

Police are investigating, the AP reported.

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With AP

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