An 8-year-old North Carolina boy was rescued after his inflatable pool toy got swept out to sea during a trip to the beach.
“I was really scared and thinking like I might die and all that stuff,” Declan O’Connor, the boy, told ABC News.
The 911 call between his mother, Jill O’Connor, and the dispatcher was released to the news outlet.
“My son is floating out in the middle of the ocean on a floaty thing,” Jill O’Connor was quoted as saying. “He doesn’t have a life jacket on. He doesn’t, he doesn’t really know how to swim.”
Photos posted on the Oak Island Water Rescue Facebook page showed a pink, yellow, and white inflatable unicorn along with the boy.
“As soon as we saw him moving away we went after him,” father Don O’Connor told ABC News. “We weren’t making ground, we were moving away faster, but his mom called 911 right away.”
The water rescue team was able to make it to the boy in time before getting him back to shore.
“I was really scared and thinking I might die.”
— ABC News (@ABC) June 11, 2019
“It was a lot of tears, exhalation, being grateful and thankful for those rescuers,” Jill O’Connor said. “That was the best feeling I could ever imagine,” she said of the moment when her son was rescued.
The water rescue team then issued a warning about the pool floats.
“We all know floats have the potential to be dangerous, whether in the pool or ocean. Some beaches allow their use, while others do not. As we also know, the water itself can be dangerous,” the team wrote on Facebook. “Certain things such as a lifejacket, close adult supervision, and water survival skills help reduce the danger of water in general.”
It noted that a small wind gust can send an inflatable raft out into the ocean.
“In fact, on days where we have a strong wind blowing toward the ocean, it is not uncommon for us to get multiple 911 dispatches for rafts blown into deeper water,” they wrote.
“Certainly having a PFD on will help you stay afloat. Many, many kids on the beach could benefit from wearing a lifejacket at the beach, yet there’s even differing opinions on wearing lifejackets in pools or at the beach,” the page wrote. “Lastly, at least one person attempted a swimming rescue prior to our arrival but was able to make it back to shore. That easily could have resulted in a exhausted swimmer drowning. While we did hear that a body board may have been used, by the time we arrived, it was difficult to see the float from the beach. Some have estimated it to be 1/4-1/2 mile off the beach.”
Rescue officials praised the boy.
“The young man did an amazing job of staying calm and remaining on the float. When Boat 4491 reached him, he told the crew not to pop the unicorn float or they would get in trouble,” they wrote.