Friends mount daring rescue of boy who fell into violent tides at the beach

“At the point I really realized how helpless I was, and I was basically fighting for my life"
July 8, 2018 11:07 am Last Updated: July 8, 2018 11:07 am

There is nothing better than a relaxing day at the beach. But despite its scenic beauty, the ocean can be a dangerous place to play.

Two men discovered just how deadly it can be when they spotted a teen boy, seemingly lifeless, being violently thrashed against rocks in fierce waves.

Though it was a sobering reminder of Mother Nature’s fury; it turned into an opportunity to showcase the valor and power of the human spirit, too. 

Rob McNulty’s friends and family’s quiet day at the beach was about to turn deadly.

(Photo By Fabio Achilli/CC-BY 2.0)

In early July, 2014, Rob McNulty took his two children and friend Hillary Swanson to check out California’s Abalone cove, in Ranchos Palos Verdes. There he met his friend 48-year-old Gary Golding, and the group settled down to enjoy a relaxing day together.

“It was going to be just a day at the beach showing children nature,” Golding told ABC7 News.

But Mother Nature had other plans. The water was rough and far too dangerous to enter safely. In fact, someone had already been killed earlier that day in the violent tides. 

“I didn’t want to go anywhere near it,” McNulty said.

That, too, was about to change, though. 

A teen boy fell into the water and quickly became unconscious.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

As the group was standing on the rocks above the cove, a young teen who they did not know fell into the frothy surf. Almost immediately, the teen became unconscious and was completely swept up by the strong current.

Golding reached for the boy, but fell himself and was swept up, as well.  

“At the point I really realized how helpless I was, and I was basically fighting for my life,” Golding said.

Meanwhile, Swanson, filming the entire scene with her GoPro camera, attempted to direct McNulty to the teen by calling out the unconscious boy’s position.

The first attempt failed, but they were ready to try again despite the danger.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

“I was really scared, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life before,” Swanson said.

McNulty listened to Swanson’s directions and watched the boy get battered by the waves; the tense situation was made much worse due to the fact that the teen was still unconscious and not moving.  

The waves were a constant danger—very rarely did they let up.

As they watched the boy from the rocks, they were desperate to get him out as soon as possible. That was when the group managed to get a bit of good luck; a lull in the current gave McNulty an opportunity to jump in and rescue the teen.

“I thought, ‘this is his only chance.’ The next thing I knew my feet left the rocks and in I went, and I grabbed him,” McNulty said.

Amidst cries and shouts, McNulty dragged the seemingly lifeless teen from the ocean.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

Everyone watched, petrified, and McNulty’s two children began to cry.

But McNulty and Golding were not about to give up.  

With the teen securely in their arms, McNulty and Golding pulled the boy to the rocks. Despite being out of the water, though, the teen was not out of danger; he was still unconscious and, now, not breathing. 

By that point, McNulty started to administer CPR. McNulty had taken CPR classes nearly 20-years ago and, from memory, did all he could to resuscitate the teen.

“I thought he was dead at that point,” McNulty said.

But then a miracle happened.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

“Rob had said to me, ‘I think he’s dead,’” Golding said. “And I was like, ‘no, no, we’re not going to give up on this kid.’”

McNulty continued to administer CPR as the waves crashed around them.

Thankfully, after several heart-pounding moments, the boy began to breathe as lifeguards arrived.

“I was elated. I knew everything was going to be beautiful,” Golding told ABC7 News.

The teen was then airlifted to a local hospital and was reportedly recovering.

When going to the beach, please be careful.

The two men’s intervention could not have been more timely.

After speaking to the teen’s doctors, McNulty discovered a sobering fact; had the teen been in the water even one minute longer, he would have died.

Thanks to these heroes, a tragic was averted, but while the beach can be a beautiful place to spend a quiet day, it can also be dangerous. So, when your enjoying the sand, sunshine and waves this summer, please make sure that you do so safely.

Watch the full story below: