ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. - A 14-year-old teen and his father from Illinois are recovering after they were swept out by a rip current in St. Augustine Beach Tuesday afternoon.
“It was absolutely terrifying being out there. I was so scared I couldn’t cry because I thought that was going to be the end for me out there,” said Ethan Martin, a 14-year-old.
But it wasn’t. Andrew Martin and his 14-year-old son, Ethan, survived.
“It was a fight the entire time,” said Andrew Martin.
The two visiting from Illinois were yelling for help, but they said it felt like the waves were overpowering them.
“It was difficult to stay calm,” said Martin.
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“I saw them out in the water,” said Joe Allen. He’s a police officer who was also from out of town. He was able to hear their screams. He grabbed a boogie board and swam out to Andrew and Ethan.
“The current was too much, there was no way we could get back on our own,” said Allen.
So the three held onto the board until two officers, a deputy and a firefighter arrived.
“He had a life jacket on, we had the buoys, without them we wouldn’t have gotten them back to shore because you’re that fatigued, like a wash machine out there. All of us were getting tossed around like rag dolls,” said Neil Bronner, a deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
But these first responders were able to pull the three out of the water.
“He heard some screaming for help and swam out there, risking his own life, and they all floated on that. If it weren’t for him it could’ve been a different story,” said Cmdr. Lee Ashlock, with the St. Augustine Beach Police Department.
“We got lucky to be honest. The conditions were really bad. There were definitely people looking out for us that day,” said Allen.
“We’re very thankful,” said Martin.