LINCOLN CITY, Ore. – A surfer who just happened to be in the right place at the right time pulled a 10-year-old boy to safety after he got stuck in a rip current in Lincoln City on Monday afternoon.
Lincoln County Fire and Rescue said two boys, ages 10 and 15, were boogie boarding when they got swept out by a rip current. Initially, a 40-year-old man from Seattle tried to rescue the boys but ended up needing help.
Jim Kerr, 53, just happened to show up to surf at the exact moment the boys needed help.
"I saw a couple guys out there, looked like they weren’t making their way in, so I figured while they were waiting for the wave runners and the skis to water rescue, I figured, "Well, I’m just going to get in my wet suit.' I had a long board, I figured I’ll just paddle out there and bring them in," Kerr said.
Kerr pulled the 10-year-old boy to safety.
“I charged out there and paddled out to the youngest kid and got him on my board and we paddled in,” Kerr said. “Oh, his mom was so happy and they had a big embrace and he was kind of in shock a little bit, but he wasn't panicking or anything.”
Kerr said he planned to go back out to rescue the 15-year-old, but by then first responders were already on jet skis. First responders rescued the 15-year-old boy and the other man who initially tried to help. Everyone made it out of the water safely. The man who initially tried to help was taken to the hospital for observation, according to North Lincoln Fire and Rescue.
Firefighters said the ocean looked calm Monday afternoon, but looks are deceiving.
“The waters we have out here are very, very different,” explained Jim Kusz with North Lincoln Fire and Rescue. “Rip currents are constantly a threat and people unknowing will say, 'Hey children, let's go play in the water here, it's nice and calm looking.' But that's actually probably the mouth of the rip and they're putting their children right in harm’s way.”
There are ways to spot rip currents. Surfers say they use them all the time to paddle out to waves. But you have to know what you are looking for.
“You'll just see kind of a little more turbulent water, and you'll just see where the waves aren't breaking and that's kind of where it's kind of launching out,” said Deklyn Wood, who surfs regularly in Lincoln City. “When you're in the water you can tell because you're seeing water rush out a lot quicker.”
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Firefighters said to pay attention to where the waves are breaking. If you see waves breaking on both sides of a section of water that looks relatively calm, that is likely where the rip current is.
If you get stuck in a rip current, do not try to swim against it. No matter how strong of a swimmer you are, crews said you are not going to beat it.
“Instinctually, you're going to say I want to swim right back in, but that's absolutely the wrong thing to do,” Kusz said. “You want to swim basically parallel to the coast go to where those waves are coming in because those will actually help get you in.”
Firefighters also cautioned against going in to rescue someone unless you are wearing a flotation device or know what you are doing. Instead, firefighters said to call 911 and keep an eye on the person, so first responders know where to go.