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La Quinta man rescues critically injured Bahamians with U.S. Coast Guard

He’s a hometown hero making a difference in the hard-hit Bahamas.

La Quinta native Jon Claridge made his first rescue with the U.S. Coast Guard just a few weeks ago. Now the 23-year-old is saving dozens of lives turned upside down by Dorian.

“They’re happy that we’re here to help them but at the same time a lot of them are mourning some pretty serious losses,” Claridge said. “It’s not easy for them but i can tell that this community and this country are full of strong people.”

Flying for 8 hours a day, Claridge and his U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue team have saved at least 26 people in just the last three days. Many flagged down their helicopter for help.

“They were telling us that there was no food and no water for them,” he said. Their priority is getting the severely injured out.

“They’re happy that we’re here to help them but at the same time a lot of them are mourning some pretty serious losses,” Claridge said. “It’s not easy for them but I can tell that this community and this country are full of strong people.”

The La Quinta High grad joined the Coast Guard three years ago. As a swimmer, he earned a scholarship to play water polo. That’s training his mom Angelique Ontiveros said prepared him to one day save lives.

We were there as she got a rare opportunity to speak to her son face-to-face, on FaceTime.

“He’s really giving them some hope,” Ontiveros said. “He’s the first step of them recovering from this awful incident.”

She’s as proud of her son as he is humble.

“I’m just doing my job; that’s all I’m thinking about,” Claridge said. “I just want to get the people what they need.”

If you would like to help the victims of Hurricane Dorian, click here or you can call 1-800-435-7669. You can also text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. If you would like to make a donation by mail, click here for the mail donation form.

You can reach Jake on Twitter, Facebook or email him at jake.ingrassia@kesq.com.

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KESQ News Team

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