(Editor’s Note: The following is a series on the men and women who have spent their summers protecting all those who came to Ocean City for fun and safe vacation.)
OCEAN CITY — Unlike most lifeguards, Sean Williams wasn’t introduced to the Ocean City Beach Patrol, he grew up with it. His father, Warren Williams, was a well-known member of the patrol for 40 years. So it was no surprise when, in 1983 at the age of 18, Sean Williams took the test and became a second generation lifeguard.
Williams ascended the ranks of the patrol to eventually become a lieutenant alongside his father.
“Not only did the OCBP help shape me into the man that I am, but it served as a bond between my father and I that I will always look back on and cherish,” Williams said.
Williams stated that while being up in the stand was certainly the most enjoyable job, being an officer also had its perks.
“It was satisfying to play a role in how the organization was run, especially with the transition from Captain Craig to Captain Schoepf,” Williams recalled. “I got to help establish a whole new training program, help write the training manual, and help establish the Surfing Beach Facilitator program, all of which are still part of the current patrol.”
Out of the countless rescues he performed over the years, Williams’s most memorable rescue didn’t occur in the water, but on the beach.
“It was Aug. 3, 1986. I was the crew chief at 7th Street and was camped out on the porch of the Majestic Hotel with another guard during a violent thunderstorm. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck the beach a few blocks south of us,” he said. “My beach was clear, but I had a bad feeling, so I called headquarters and was told there was a lightning strike at Second Street with multiple victims. Apparently, several people tried to wait out the storm under a rented umbrella which, on a flat beach, instantly became a lightning rod.”
Williams continued, “I grabbed the other guard and we sprinted down the Boardwalk in the pouring rain. When we arrived on the scene, we saw four bodies laid out on the beach with several guards already performing CPR. We jumped in and assisted with the victims, but in the end all four victims died. That is why, to this day, the OCBP clears the beach at the first sign of a thunder storm.”
Williams had to leave the patrol in 1993 to complete his education. His father continued on the beach patrol until his sudden death in 2003. Currently, Williams is a chiropractor in West Ocean City, a father of two kids and is active with the OCBP Alumni Association.