BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Last Friday at the Ventura Pier, 16-year-old Chris Lozano found himself in a life or death situation.
"We were swimming for about 20 minutes and the waves were huge," said Lozano.
Lozano actually stopped surfing because the surf was so rough. Then he noticed a head bobbing in the water far from the shore.
"I heard a cry for help instantly, so I didn't think about it, I just jumped in the water and I just started paddling out," said Lozano.
Eleven-year-old Maya Harding was swimming when she said the tide started pulling her out.
"I saw everybody was really small, like they were really far away," said Harding.
Pictured Above: Eleven-year-old Maya Harding.
(Courtesy: Harding Family)
Lozano was worried the waves would slam Harding into the Pylons for the pier. He said his training as a young Marine helped him fight the huge waves.
"They work you hard and I think that's kind of what got me to swim that far," said Lozano.
Lozano was using a boogie board as he started the rescue, but when it started slowing him down he said he tossed it aside and continued on his own. Lozano then finally reached Harding just ten-feet from the pylons.
"She was shaking and she was kicking and I said 'If you are going to kick then we are both going under,''" said Lozano.
"He grabbed me by my waist and he held me and he said 'Okay, you're okay. You're okay. Breathe in and out; breathe in and out,'" said Harding.
Battling the waves, the pair finally made it back to shore.
"I thought that was going to be the last time I saw my grandpa and my little brother," said Harding.
Lozano said he's 'always wanted to be in the Coast Guard and Search & Rescue.'
"When I did this it opened my eyes to see I really want to do this job," said Lozano.
Lozano left before Harding and her family could thank him. Now, the two families hope to meet each other.
"He is my hero for helping me and saving me," said Harding. "If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here."