WALTERS, Hugo (c. 1923-1954), movie stunt man and former life guard who drowned when the small power boat in which he and two others were departing Santa Catalina Island sank about ten miles off the island. Also drowned was Don McGuire, 27. Stunt man Paul Stader (1911-1991) managed to swim the distance to the island, coming in at Emerald Bay.
In the News~
June 14, 1954 [San Bernardino Sun]: “Boat survivor swims 10 miles. Coast Guard hunts two other men. Avalon, Catalina Island—An exhausted swimmer came ashore at Emerald Bay Sunday and reported that a power boat with two other men aboard had sunk 10 miles off Catalina Island. Later it was reported, without immediate confirmation, that one of the other men had been saved. A search was started by a Coast Guard plane and two cutters. The swimmer who reached Catalina Island is Paul Stader, 43, movie stunt man and former Santa Monica lifeguard. Weak after the 10-mile swim, he said he almost didn't make it. Stader identified the others aboard the 18-foot power boat as Hugo Walters, 31, also a movie stunt man and former lifeguard, and Don McGuire, 27. Stader said there were no life belts aboard the boat. Sunday night, still in weakened condition, Stader told newsmen his first hint of trouble came when the boat;s motor refused to accelerate. This was noted about noon on Saturday. "It just wouldn't take hold," he said. "I opened the hatch and saw about 20 gallons of water sloshing around the engine. I knew we didn't have much time, so I tied five of the floating cushions together for Hugo Walters. He was a good swimmer but he had a sprained ankle. "We fixed up another cushion and a seatback for McGuire and I took a seatback. In ten minutes the boat sank. For one hour I pulled Hugo along. I got awfully tired and Hugo was getting more an more discouraged. McGuire and I joked with each other to try to keep our spirits up." They finally decided, however, that their progress together was too slow, and it was agreed that Stader would strike out alone in an effort to reach shore and help. "I was tired but I knew I could make it," he said. "The water was choppy and I kept swallowing big mouthfuls. It made me violently ill. My legs kept cramping but I just ket plowing along. I didn't see any sharks at all." ”