OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — A Georgia man is out of the hospital after being caught in a rip current in Oak Island. Tuesday, the good Samaritan who saved his life is speaking out.
“The gut and the heart just told me to get out there and help,” Brian Schmidt said. “I’ve grown up around water and pool but haven’t had to experience that type of swim before.”
Even though he doesn’t live here, Schmidt is no stranger to Oak Island, but jumping in to save a life? He says Monday was like no other beach visit.
“I was carrying the boogie boards and chairs to where we were going to sit that day, dropped the right stuff, grabbed the right boogie board and saw the gentleman in the water,” Schmidt said.
He says his family usually parks at the 10th Street beach access, but for the first time they went to 2nd Street.
He says he was in the right place at the right time when he saw people struggling in the water.
“Just one of those gut reactions and I was glad to have a flotation device with me, when I went out there,” Schmidt said.
Oak Island Water Rescue Chief Tony Young says if Schmidt didn’t bring the boogie board with him in the water, it could have been worse.
“We almost had a tragedy of one of the rescuers yesterday because he didn’t bring a float with him,” Young said. “Now, he saved one person and got her back to the beach, then went back for the second and just ran out of stamina.”
That’s when Schmidt showed up and helped save the day. Young says this is a lesson for all oak island beach goers.
“People help people, so if someone is in trouble you’re going to go,” Young said. “So, make a plan before you set foot on the sand.”
Chief Young also says red flags are a sign to not get in the water. Yellow mean caution.
if you see yellow, be very careful, and, if you see red, make a safety before getting in the water.
“If it’s red stay out of the water period,” Young said. “We used to say ‘we understand you are going to get into the water but try to stay knee deep or less.’ Yesterday, we almost had a tragedy. They were standing knee deep in the water, a wave knocked him down, the rip current got him and pulled him out.”