“This man fell straight in front of our family. I saw my dad flinch and then people started screaming, ‘Man overboard.’ … I ran halfway to the back of the ship and came across a life ring and threw it overboard. I think it helped locate where the guy was … all he was doing was floating or treading water. It was kind of a big deal because nobody ever survives a fall into the Mississippi River.”

Age: 16

School: Dutchtown High School

Parents: Gary and Karen Giffel


Book: “Code Orange”

Music: Hip-hop/rap

Movie: “The Patriot”

TV show: “Jericho”

Role model: His father

Hangout: Friends’ houses

Extra: Giffel was starting a cruise vacation with his family June 19 onboard the Norwegian Spirit when he saw a fellow passenger go overboard into the Mississippi River. Giffel reacted immediately by throwing a nearby life ring to the person, while his 21-year-old cousin, Tyler Giffel, alerted the crew. Norwegian Spirit’s rescue team dispatched a rescue boat into the river and rescued the passenger. In a special ceremony, Capt. Evans Hoyt thanked Giffel and presented him with the same life ring that he threw to the passenger. Both the cruise line and the Port of New Orleans also gave him plaques of appreciation.

Giffel plays soccer for his high school and is trying to start up his own lawn-care business.