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Hurricane Sandy hero dies in surfing accident

Dylan Smith rescued people using his surfboard.

Associated Press

Dylan Smith rescued people using his surfboard.

NEW YORK — A lifeguard widely praised as a hero after Hurricane Sandy for rescuing neighbors endangered by flood waters and a fire that destroyed several homes in a small community has died in a surfing ­accident in Puerto Rico.

The death of Dylan Smith, 23, brought sadness again to residents of the Belle Harbor section of the Rockaways.

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As word spread that Smith, who used his surfboard to ferry people to safety during the late October storm, had lost his life, a Heroes of Rockaway Facebook page said: ‘‘R.I.P. to Dylan Smith, our Rockaway Hero, tragically died this morning surfing in Puerto Rico. He will never be forgotten.’’

Smith’s body was found floating near his surfboard, police said. Authorities said a resident of Rincon spotted Smith in the water and took him to shore. They said a doctor tried to resuscitate him.

During Hurricane Sandy, Smith had rescued as many as a dozen people, said Michael Light, a family friend and New York fire chief. He paddled from porch to porch with his surfboard, moving people from imperiled perches amid flood waters and flames from a gas line explosion as more than a dozen homes around him burned to the ground.

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