A 23-year-old man from New York was found dead in Puerto Rican waters, apparently drowned while surfing off a popular beach town in the island.

Dylan Smith, regarded by some in the New York media as a "hero" for having saved lives during Hurricane Sandy, was found floating Sunday morning near his surfboard in waters off Maria's Beach, in the western Puerto Rican community of Rincon. The town's beaches attract surfers from across the world.

Authorities say a local resident spotted Smith in the water and brought him to shore. A local doctor tried to resuscitate him but the surfer showed no signs of life.

The New York Post reports Smith worked as a lifeguard at Rockaway Beach and was hailed as a hero for his daring rescue efforts as superstorm Sandy devastated his neighborhood.

Smith and Michael McDonnell, 51, were named as People magazine Heroes of 2012 for risking their lives. According to the magazine, they used Smith’s surfboard to float a half-dozen people — who were trapped on a porch by six feet of water — to safety.

Smith, who was on vacation with friends, is survived by his parents and a younger brother, according to the neighbor, who did not want her name printed.

With reporting by The Associated Press.

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