VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - When the weather heats up and the waves come crashing in, the firefighters at Station 11 near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront know to be ready for anything. It's never the same day twice. More bodies on the beach mean more rescue calls.
“Your first instinct is to just jump off the truck and go save them."
That's what happened the morning of August 15, 2021. Two people were in trouble in the water near 20th street. They were shouting for help.
“He clearly was a total panic mode at that moment,” says Firefighter Matthew McQuarrie. “He was, you know, fighting and doing everything he could to keep himself up."
Engine 14 to the rescue. McQuarrie and Firefighter Justin Tabora were first to swim out, about 200 yards, to the men. They got to one of them quickly. The other disappeared below the surface of the water.
"When he popped back up, and I found him again, we just wrapped him up, he was talking to me, and you know, was still conscious," McQuarrie recalls.
Firefighter Samuel Hutcheson jumped into the water to assist. Master Firefighter Brenden McDaniel coordinated the response on the sand. With teamwork and training, they saved two lives that day.
“It was like a big, a big a big relief, at the end of the day."
"We've all worked and trained together," McDaniel adds. "So, it went just about the way that I thought it was going to and ended up obviously positive, both people that were in the water, and everyone got to go home. So it was good."
The four were recently recognized for their bravery when they were awarded the Hampton Roads Chamber's 2022 Lifesaving Award. News 3 anchor Blaine Stewart surprised the men with our Everyday Hero award and a gift card from our community sponsor, Southern Bank.
"I think for all of us, it just sort of felt like, okay, cool, we did good work today," McQuarrie says.