By Patty Hastings, The Columbian
VANCOUVER — After rescuing a 12-year-old boy from the surf at Rockaway Beach near Tillamook, Ore., on July 1, only to face a $2,600 medical bill, lifeguard John Clark is getting a big thank you from anonymous donors touched by his story of bravery and selflessness.
Two women offered to pay off whatever debt remains of Clark’s medical bill and set up a trust fund for his higher education.
Clark, 17, has been a lifeguard this summer at a community center in Vancouver. But he was at an Oregon beach last month when he heard screams for help. He dived through breakers and heavy swells to keep the boy afloat until personal watercraft arrived and pulled them to shore.
Clark had a headache so he went with the boy in an ambulance to Tillamook General Hospital. He thought it was standard procedure to go, until several weeks later when the bill arrived: about $450 for the emergency room, $230 for the doctor bill and $1,900 for the 15-mile ambulance ride.
Donors are now negotiating with the hospital to lower the bill, so more money can go to the trust fund.
Clark is the youngest in a family of nine children, most of whom haven’t gone to college. A sister graduated from Seattle University, and a brother went to New Mexico State University.
As he enters his senior year of high school in Vancouver, he’s considering Central Washington University, Oregon State University or Washington State University, Vancouver for fall 2013.
Money from the trust goes only to college. When he reaches age 25, any unused funds will go to the Scholarship Fund of Clark College.
Starting Monday, donations will be accepted at the Minnehaha Chase bank branch and at the O’Donnell Clark and Crew law firm, which set up the education trust fund.
“We think that he’s quite the guy for doing this,” said Adam Anderson, a lawyer at O’Donnell. “We hope we can help him achieve his goals.”
The Associated Press contributed to this post.