'It's definitely a miracle,' says surfer after rescuers save his life at Mandalay Beach

JUAN CARLO/THE STAR
Cameron Schwartzkopf, 30, who was surfing at Mandalay Beach when he started drowning, was pulled from the water by couple of other surfers and given CPR by Shawn Mackey. Schwartzkopf is staying in Oxnard with a couple of friends along with his wife Melanie Schwartzkopf and his mother Jes Schwartzkopf.

Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star // Buy this photo

JUAN CARLO/THE STAR Cameron Schwartzkopf, 30, who was surfing at Mandalay Beach when he started drowning, was pulled from the water by couple of other surfers and given CPR by Shawn Mackey. Schwartzkopf is staying in Oxnard with a couple of friends along with his wife Melanie Schwartzkopf and his mother Jes Schwartzkopf.

JUAN CARLO/THE STAR
Jes Schwartzkopf, mother of Cameron Schwartzkopf, 30, and Cameron’s wife Melanie Schwartzkopf, relax at a friend’s house in Oxnard Shores. Cameron was surfing when he started drowning and was rescued by a couple of other surfers and given CPR  by Shawn Mackey. 02/25/14 Oxnard, CA

Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star

JUAN CARLO/THE STAR Jes Schwartzkopf, mother of Cameron Schwartzkopf, 30, and Cameron’s wife Melanie Schwartzkopf, relax at a friend’s house in Oxnard Shores. Cameron was surfing when he started drowning and was rescued by a couple of other surfers and given CPR by Shawn Mackey. 02/25/14 Oxnard, CA

The surfer whose life was saved by a Ventura gym owner Saturday wants to meet and thank her.

Cameron Schwartzkopf, 30, of Mammoth Lakes, saw the story about his rescue and contacted The Star on Tuesday to find Shawn Mackey, 50, the woman who helped save his life by giving him CPR.

Schwartzkopf has no idea what happened in the water off Mandalay Beach on Saturday morning that left him floating facedown in the ocean.

“All I remember is surfing and waking up in the hospital,” Schwartzkopf said.

Schwartzkopf said he takes medicine to combat seizures, but his prescription wasn’t strong enough, so it could be that he suffered a seizure while surfing, he surmises. His medication has since been adjusted.

He does know he is extremely lucky that Mackey ran to his aid, along with a spontaneous assembly line of rescuers, including two surfers, who pulled him into shore; Mackey, who administered CPR; and retired police chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District Laurence Manion, who gave Schwartzkopf CPR when Mackey tired. To say nothing of the firefighters, doctors and nurses who tended to him.

“It’s definitely a miracle,” Schwartzkopf said. “It’s God’s grace that kept me alive.”

Dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, flip-flops and a ball cap, Schwartzkopf sat in the sunny courtyard of a friend’s house in Oxnard Shores on Tuesday, coughing now and then, drinking bottled water, but otherwise fine.

“Miracle Ma-a-a-a-a-n!” sang one friend, Sammy MacLennan, who walked in with groceries.

Schwartzkopf sat on a wooden bench between his wife of four years, Melanie Schwarzkopf, 31, and his mom, Jes Schwartzkopf, 67, who now and then reached over to stroke the arm of her only child.

Jes, a Realtor in Mammoth Lakes, drove to Oxnard the moment nurses from St. John’s Regional Medical Center contacted her to let her know her son had been rushed to the emergency room.

Cameron works as a youth ski coach in Mammoth Lakes and Melanie works as an interior designer. The two were visiting a childhood friend in Oxnard Shores after an overseas trip to see a friend compete in the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

“A friend of ours from our church up in Mammoth, Kelly Clark, was competing in the women’s half-pipe,” Cameron said. “Plus a friend of mine is a half-pipe coach.”

Cameron and Melanie were thrilled to watch Clark earn a bronze medal. Then, they headed to Lebanon on a church mission to visit Syrian refugees.

“We just tried to pray for them and bring hope,” Cameron said. “We had some medical supplies.”

After the trip, they swung through Oxnard and Cameron decided to enjoy some surfing before heading home to Mammoth Lakes.

When hours passed and Cameron hadn’t come home that day, Melanie wandered up and down the beach.

“I didn’t learn until about 4 o’clock that afternoon what had happened. I was really worried,” Melanie said. “It had been way too long. I walked up and down the beach and didn’t see him anywhere.”

Cameron had been rushed to St. John’s about 10:40 a.m. after Mackey and a team of people helped keep him alive in the surf, but Cameron had no identification on him. So, nurses had to wait until he was conscious and could write his name, Melanie said. He had a tube down his throat so he couldn’t speak.

“Basically everybody that came into my room to visit me was in tears at the fact that I was alive,” he said. “People I didn’t even know.”

Cameron said he can’t thank Mackey and the team of rescuers enough.

“I mean, what do you say?” he said.

Upon learning Cameron was fine and anxious to meet her, Mackey was thrilled. She turned 50 the day before she helped rescue Cameron, and said the best birthday present she could ask for was to know Cameron was OK.

“That is the best news ever,” Mackey said. “I’ve got goose bumps. I’m relieved. I’m just. I’ve got goose bumps. I’m thrilled. It’s beautiful.”

Cameron said he planned to call Mackey on Tuesday afternoon and arrange to meet her.

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Comments » 4

poncho writes:

Great story, wonderful outcome. Congratulations to all.

MyJesusMercy writes:

A walking miracle.. Praise be to God

ms_reason writes:

I am finding out this week more great stories like this. God is great as he created so many great people like this woman.
Glad everyone is well.

sionygriffith#401167 writes:

The comments have it right. God is great. The kid looks like he'd return the favor to someone else if the situation were reversed. Right place when needed, Shawn. Bless you. Wonder if the young man is related to H. Norman, another great individual who saved thousands of American lives in '91.

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