Unsung Hero: He helped rescue a skier dangerously entangled in plastic fencing

This is Unsung Heroes, a Bryan on Scouting blog series celebrating under-reported acts of Scouting heroism. These are stories that don’t make national headlines — but should. That’s doubly true in this world that can always use more good news. Read the latest story below, and find instructions for sharing your own Unsung Heroes story at the end of the post.

In February 2019, Shane Holbrook was snowboarding with friends and family at Snow Summit Ski Resort in Southern California when he spotted a skier in danger.

The man’s skis had become trapped in some green plastic safety fencing. The fencing, installed to prevent people from falling into a pool of near-freezing water that supplies the snow-making machines, was thin and held up with narrow PVC pipes.

“Although it had some support, I knew it wasn’t going to hold for long,” Shane says.

While others continued past the man, Shane hopped over to help — one foot still in the binding on his snowboard.

Shane was just 12 years old when this happened, but he’s a Scout. And Scouts know there’s no minimum age to begin helping others.

(Still, it’s important to know your limits so you avoid making yourself a victim. Scouts should notify an adult and/or emergency services and wait for help if they aren’t comfortable attempting the rescue.)

Shane on a snowboard
Shane kneels near the plastic fencing where he rescued a skier from possible danger.

What he did

As he was preparing to board the ski lift to head back up the mountain, Shane saw a man lose his balance and fall backward into the fencing.

Shane, now a Star Scout with Troop 731 of Fallbrook, Calif., approached the man and told him to remain calm.

Shane’s gloves made it difficult to get a good grip on the man’s hand. But persistence won out, and Shane eventually managed to pull the man away from the plastic fencing and the ledge just beyond this temporary boundary.

Had the fencing not held — a real possibility, Shane says — the man could have fallen several feet and suffered injuries to his head, neck or back.

Why he did it

Shane’s proud of what he did, but to hear him tell it, it’s exactly what any Scout would do in his boots.

“Our Scout Law states [to be] loyal, helpful, courteous,” Shane says. “They teach you the Scout Oath and that we need to be ‘mentally awake.'”

But Scouting’s value goes even deeper than that, Shane says. During his Scouting journey, he’s also learned to believe in himself.

“I felt confident that I was able to help that man, who was larger than me and older than me, due in part to the training I have had through Scouting,” Shane says.

Additional resources

The BSA is committed to helping young people enjoy the outdoors safely. Review the following before your next winter sports outing:

Share your Unsung Heroes story

Stories like these brighten my day — especially because I know this kind of thing happens regularly in Scouting.

Here’s how to share the news of an Unsung Hero in your pack, troop or crew:

  1. Send an email to me with the subject line “Unsung Heroes.”
  2. Include a detailed summary of the heroic act.
  3. Include any “supporting documentation” you can. Examples include links to a story in your local newspaper, paperwork for a Scouting heroism award nomination or eyewitness accounts.
  4. Include high-res photos of the Unsung Hero.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.