Prince William Spends New Year's Morning in Daring Rescue Effort

The heir to the throne tried to rescue a man who had been swept out to sea.

Jan. 2, 2013 — -- While the rest of the world was ringing in 2013, the heir to the British throne was trying to rescue a man who had been swept out to sea in northwest England.

It was just 15 minutes after midnight in England when the call came in that an unnamed 41-year-old man walking his dog on a pier was had been swept into the sea. Prince William, a helicopter search and rescue pilot in the Royal Air Force, was in the air within a minute, battling 50 mile per hour winds as the frantic 90-minute hunt.

The future king has always been willing to give up personal time with his pregnant wife -- who was, at that moment, celebrating New Years with her family -- for a job that's essential.

"It's great because you get to go out and save someone's life – hopefully -- or at least make a difference to someone when you know they're in trouble. You do everything you can to try and get there," Prince William said in an April, 2011 interview with the BBC.

It was 13 months ago when the prince was seen in a 2 a.m. rescue as a cargo ship shattered and nearly sank. In high winds, William and a crew hovered above the rough seas and winched a rescuer down to bring two sailors to safety.

"It's rewarding because every day you come into work and you don't know what's going to happen. It's quite exciting," William said in April 2011. "It's unpredictable."

The rescue effort failed, and the coast guard has called off its search.