A former lifeguard came to the rescue Saturday when a day at the beach with her friend and daughter turned into a near-deadly accident. As it turned out, she not only saved the day, but actually saved the most important day of one man’s life.
Sonia Taylor and her friend Meagan Krebs of Cocoa Beach, Florida, had taken their kids for a day of fun and sun when Taylor noticed a dangerous situation developing in the surf. It was a windy afternoon, and a man was struggling out in the water.
Immediately, the former lifeguard suspected that the beach-goer had gotten caught in a rip current.
“My first thought was, ‘They need help,'” Taylor told The Western Journal.
“Sonia Taylor and I were enjoying some shade with the babies when Sonia spotted a man struggling out in the ocean,” Krebs wrote on Facebook. “A friend of the man went in after him and also got stuck. Sonia made a call to action and instructed they get boogie boards to help.”
Taylor told The Western Journal that two more of the struggling man’s friends raced into the water without waiting for boogie boards. Soon, five men in total were all trapped in the powerful rip current, struggling against the ocean and tiring fast.
Taylor, however, grabbed a nearby boogie board and raced to the rescue, expertly navigating the waters to reach them.
“Three were hurting,” she told WOFL. “One was sick to his stomach because he had swallowed so much salt water.”
She helped bring the party of friends back to the shore, successfully rescuing all of them. The swimmers had been fading fast against the current, and without the boogie boards and Taylor’s help, could very easily have drowned.
“I’ve been caught in a riptide and it’s really hard not to panic,” Taylor said. “I’m very confident in the water and these guys aren’t very used to the water that much, so I think they just panicked.”
“I think they were just having a good beach day but they just didn’t see the riptide. Maybe they weren’t trained to recognize it.”
As she found out, after reaching the shore, the group was from Arkansas and had never heard of a rip current before — much less learned how to respond to one.
One of the men was especially grateful.
“He said, ‘If you hadn’t have given me that boogie board, I don’t know if I would’ve made it,'” Taylor told WOFL. “He’s like, ‘It’s a really important day for me to be alive.'”
The young man pointed to a nearby building, telling Taylor and Krebs that he needed to be there in just a few hours.
The stunned women glanced over and realized it was a chapel.
“I look over and I see the chapel and I’m like, ‘Are you getting married?'” Taylor said. “And he says, ‘Yeah I’m the groom.'”
“He was so grateful,” Taylor told The Western Journal. She added that without her help, “he didn’t think he would have made his wedding. I just felt glad that I could help,” she added.
Thanks to the former lifeguard’s courage and willingness to risk her own safety, the swimmer survived a brush with death and went on to begin the rest of his life with his bride.
“I’m just glad they were all safe,” the local hero said of the experience. “I’m glad he was able to marry the love of his life, and I saw them leave the hotel, and they looked like they were in good spirits and were about to have a very fun night, so I’m glad that worked out for them.”
Her only regret is not catching the man’s name so she could wish him and his new wife a lifetime of happiness together.
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