Standing ovations are rare at City Hall, and city council meetings rarely draw a standing room only crowd. However, that was the case on Wednesday as the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council honored a local teen and a Santa Margarita Catholic High employee for their joint effort in saving a man from drowning in the campus pool.
In December, Mission Viejo High student Brandon Neilsen, 16, and SMCHS employee Samuel Medina , another Santa Margarita Catholic High worker, who had fallen into the high school’s pool.
Mendoza didn’t know how to swim.
Brandon dove into the pool and fished out Mendoza from the bottom and pulled him to the pool deck, where Medina began resuscitative efforts.
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Beall praised them both for their “heroic, unselfish and quick actions.”
Wearing a blue and gold tie—Santa Margarita Catholic colors—Mendoza, who attended with his wife and four daughters, thanked Brandon and Medina for what they had done.
“Otherwise," Mendoza said, "I wouldn’t be here.”
He added, drawing laughter from the audience, “God doesn’t want me up there yet."
In the standing-room only council chambers, family, friends and well-wishers gave Nielsen and Medina standing ovations for their efforts.