LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy was honored with the Medal of Valor by Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday for saving a teenager from drowning.
Deputy Jenna Underwood-Nunez, who was five months pregnant, was off-duty and camping with her family when she “observed a boy struggling in the lake about 100 yards from shore,” a White House statement said.
“Fully clothed, she swam toward the victim, only to learn that the struggling boy was trying to draw attention to his brother, submerged in 15 feet of water,” the statement said.
Underwood-Nunez dove to the bottom of the lake, pulled the 17-year-old boy up and brought him to shore where she performed CPR. The boy later made a full recovery.
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, authorized by law in 2001, is the highest national award for valor presented to a public safety officer. The medal is awarded to officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Amy Johnson spoke to the deputy’s mother, Lori Underwood, who says she wasn’t surprised by her daughter’s actions: “That’s totally Jenna. She would do that, it wouldn’t matter what kind of condition she was in.”
“She’s amazed me all her life,” said Underwood, adding that her daughter has competed in triathlons and is a trained EMT.
Underwood-Nunez called her mother during the interview and said of Wednesday’s ceremony: “It was honestly just unbelievable. I was honored to be in the presence of so many amazing heroes.”
It was a ceremony the deputy almost missed; She gave birth to her fourth child 10 days ago.
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