MTU lifeguard trio receives American Red Cross Lifesaving Award

Brett Ceane, Leah Komarzec and Skyler Spitzley worked together to save the life of SDC patron Rob Best in June.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 8:39 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - Three Michigan Tech University (MTU) lifeguards were honored on Monday with the American Red Cross (ARC) Lifesaving Award.

It is the highest award the ARC can give to those who use its training to save lives.

The trio, Brett Ceane, Leah Komarzec and Skyler Spitzley saved the life of SDC Patron Rob Best last year. Best suffered chest pain and lost consciousness while swimming at the SDC. The trio removed him from the pool and performed CPR after contacting 911. Komarzec and a public safety officer used a defibrillator on Best, which kept him alive until MTU emergency medical services arrived.

Kathryn Halverson, executive director of the North Central Chapter of the ARC, awarded the trio with their award at a ceremony held at the university’s Student Development Complex (SDC). Halverson was joined by Regional CEO Mark Thomas.

While Best was unable to attend the ceremony, he did send a message to be read at the ceremony.

I’m told by a friend that lifeguards gave me compressions for several minutes while waiting for the campus police to arrive with an AED. Everyone was scrambling to assist to revive me. I’ve heard these guards have been a little reluctant to get an award for what they did. I think most of us agree that’s a sign of true and humble heroes. I’m also thankful to Annie and the whole DC staff who hire these capable people that saved me. I know I owe God, the Lifeguards, and Red Cross for my being alive today. Bless you, lifesavers.

Spitzley said during a speech that she is thankful for the support she received after the experience.

“I didn’t want to be alone, and all of my lifeguard friends, they let me lean on them,” said Spitzley. “All of my friends from college, I was on the phone with them. So for all the support that we’ve had, and that I’ve had as a teammate, thank you for all of that.”

MTU Aquatics Manager Anne Bengry was also awarded an instructor lapel pin and certificate. She nominated the trio for the award.

“Leah, Skyler and Brett chose to become lifeguards,” said Bengry. “They chose to help others. They chose to learn and maintain a high skill set. When it mattered most, they demonstrated maturity, leadership, and confidence. They are lifesavers. They are lifeguards.”