A family from Pensacola, Florida, was enjoying a day at Quietwater Beach when disaster struck. Thankfully, the family’s 9-year-old son seemed to have a sixth sense for safety, and he behaved quickly in a manner beyond his years that ended up saving his father’s life.
Josh and Audrey Williams headed to the beach with their kids last Saturday for some outside time. They spent the day hanging out, swimming and having a good time until sunset, when Asaih Williams, 9, asked his dad to jump into the water one more time with him.
Audrey was with the younger children on the beach as father and son headed to the water again.
Asaih went before his dad, jumping in feet-first. Josh followed with a dive — but either because of the dark, his unfamiliarity with the area, or both, he didn’t realize the water was much shallower where they were.
“They were kind of playing around where the ferry docks in, so it’s about 15 feet deep right there,” Audrey said, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
“Then they went down a little bit further, to the right, at the end, where it was a lot more shallow. They couldn’t see that well.”
When Josh came up, he knew immediately that he’d made a serious mistake.
“All I remember was that he said he broke his neck and he said he was scared,” Asaih said. “I had a little time limit in my head. If I jump in and the person I’m jumping with in that certain amount of time (doesn’t come up), I go after them.”
“Asaih saw that daddy wasn’t coming up as quickly as he should have, and he knew something was wrong,” Audrey said.
When Josh surfaced, he floated with his back facing up, unable to move. Using all of his strength, and then some, Asaih flipped his father over so he could breathe and then painstakingly towed him to shore.
Once the boy got closer to shore and people realized what was happening, they rushed to provide help, and medical backup was called for.
“Josh told me from the hospital, ‘I knew when I impacted, my neck was gone,’ ” Audrey said.
Now that he’s had surgery and time to heal, Josh is slowly regaining control of his body. He’s been told he should have a full recovery and that he shouldn’t need a wheelchair beyond the immediate future.
“He’s working on trying to get his feeling back in his arms and legs,” Audrey said. “His left side is worse than his right.”
“Doctors are saying he should have a full recovery. He’s progressing pretty fast. He lifted his head and sat up in a chair (Tuesday).”
On Tuesday, Josh posted a brief status update on Facebook, which was doubly encouraging because it gave his friends and family some news and illustrated he was getting better.
“Just keep praying love y’all,” the post read.
Audrey and many others are making sure to recognize Asaih’s contributions. The boy hadn’t had any formal swimming training, but his instincts kicked in and he was able to keep his dad alive.
“I’m so grateful that (Asaih) was there for him because if he wasn’t there, my husband probably wouldn’t be here today,” Audrey said. “The fact that a 9-year-old thought so fast in thinking, ‘Oh, I gotta help, I’m the only one here to help him.’ He brought him all the way back to shore all by himself.”
“He’s daddy’s hero, that’s for sure.”
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