VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Lifeguard Daniel Tobin says he’s no stranger to rescuing people from rip currents. But Thursday was Tobin’s first time rescuing someone from a rip current who was unconscious.
“I get about 50 yards from them, I realize it’s not just two people. There’s a third person. He’s facedown in the water, not moving. So now we have an unconscious and two active drowners out in the water,” Tobin told News 3.
Tobin got an EMS call just after 12:00 pm on Thursday for some swimmers who had gotten caught in a rip current.
Red flags warning swimmers of rip current conditions have been posted on the beach since Wednesday.
Officials confirmed there were three victims: one adult male and two teenagers.
“It was a father and two sons,” Tobin told News 3.
Watch the live interview here, or scroll down to read more of the story.
Even though the family was not swimming near lifeguard stands, Tobin told News 3 he and another lifeguard were able to dive in the water after them within a minute of getting the 911 call.
“[We jumped in] with a rescue can – a buoy, and fins. That’s the only equipment we have out here on the beach. It’s what we use,” Tobin said.
Tobin and another lifeguard were able to pull the unconscious teenager to the shoreline.
“[We] leave the two swimmers,” he said. “We have to come back for them. They’re swimming still. They’re still alive. We give them the flotation device, and they can still stay up.”
Tobin went back for the other two swimmers, and also brought them to safety.
Officials told News 3 all were transported to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, two with serious injuries.
“We encourage people to come out to the beach and have fun. We also want you to stay safe though, so we put the red flags up,” Tobin told News 3.
Red flags mean swimmers need to stay knee-to-waist deep, and swim near a lifeguard.
“Just be aware of where you’re at. Don’t try to test your limits. If you’re not a strong swimmer, come to the lifeguarded beach. That’s why we’re here.”