A Sebastian man surfing near the inlet saved a girl on Monday after she was pulled out in a strong rip current.
Jason Hines of Sebastian said the girl was swimming near the jetty and panicked when she was caught in the current.
“Got her to the beach,” said Hines. “She and her mom broke out into tears. Made me watery-eyed too.”
The surfing rescue occurred following the National Weather Service (NWS) issuing several rip tide warnings on Monday at the Sebastian Inlet.
Hines graduated from Sebastian River High School in 2005. He is a University of Florida graduate and a professional photographer/videographer, mainly doing weddings in South Florida. He is also a father of two sons, Noah (5), a kindergartener at Liberty Magnet Elementary, and Parker (3).
“Always keep an eye out for swimmers. Pretty much every surfer I know has saved someone at some point,” said Hines.
At this time of year, many visitors come down and aren’t aware of how dangerous it can be to swim in the ocean at the Sebastian Inlet.
Last summer, Lt. Dustin Lightsey, an off-duty Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer, was surfing when he noticed a young girl caught in a dangerous rip current on the north side of the jetty. It took him 10 to 15 minutes to save her from the rip current. Otherwise, she would’ve drowned.
The NWS has some tips if caught in a rip current:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never fight against the current.
- Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
- Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle–away from the current–toward shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
Rip currents are powerful, with fast-moving water at speeds of up to eight feet per second. Most panicked swimmers try to counter a rip current by swimming to shore. However, that only puts them at risk of drowning because of fatigue.