OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — You’ve probably seen them on the beach: big blow-up rafts shaped like flamingos or unicorns. Now one water rescue group wants to issue a warning after an incident earlier this week.
This isn’t the first time Oak Island Water Rescue has had issues with these large rafts. Last year WWAY reported that they had to retrieve several of them that blew out to sea. But they say this is the first time a little kid was still attached to it.
On Monday, a little boy visiting from Ohio with his family was floating on a large unicorn-shaped raft when he drifted out to sea.
“The float was right there, in easy reach, and then just in the blink of an eye, it was beyond the breakers and too far for them to reach,” said Oak Island Water Rescue Chief Tony Young.
Young says the raft acted like a sail, and the small child couldn’t stop it.
“They immediately called 911 when they realized they couldn’t reach him, and they also told him to stay on the float,” Young said. A lot of the time, people get in trouble if they abandon ship and try to swim back.”
“Young says he doesn’t want to discourage anyone from using these type of floats, he just wants them to be safe.
“These floats are very popular, we advise everybody to anchor them somehow, or have a parent hold on to a line,” Young said.
Oak Island Water Rescue had a boat in the water less than 15 minutes after the call came in. Being a volunteer organization, Young says they do it because they want to help.
“Handing that little kid back to his mom after we brought him in from way out in the ocean on that float was payment enough for all of us,” Young said. “I’m sure I speak for the whole team when it comes to that.”
Young says if you see one of these rafts out in the ocean, don’t be afraid to call 911. He also says they will soon be getting a drone with an infrared camera to assist with rescues.