A group of rescuers pulled Declan O’Connor safely to the ground.
What was supposed to be a fun family day at the beach turned into a spooky circumstance when a young boy on an inflatable pool toy took swept away by the sea in North Carolina.
“I was really scared and thought I could die and stuff,” Declan O’Connor, 8, told ABC News.
Her worried mother was audibly shaken over the phone with 911 dispatchers.
“My son is floating in the middle of the ocean on a floating thing,” Jill O’Connor said. “He doesn’t have a life jacket. He doesn’t, he can’t really swim.”
The large white and pink unicorn float continued to drift away and his father immediately jumped into action.
“As soon as we saw him walk away, we chased him,” Don O’Connor told ABC News. “We weren’t gaining ground, we were moving away faster, but her mother called 911 right away.”
Before officials reached the beach, the Oak Island Water Rescue team of volunteers set sail to bring the young boy ashore.
“It was a lot of tears, of exhaling, to be grateful and thankful for these rescuers,” said the relieved mom.
Rescuers made their way to dry land with Declan in their arms and delivered him straight to his parents.
“It was the best feeling I could imagine,” she said as she kissed her son.
The Oak Island Water Rescue Team took to Facebook to use the incident as a pre-summer teaching moment and shared safety tips as well as photos from the rescue.
Pool floats have been increasingly spotted in similar incidents, leading to safety warnings associated with the risks of using them on the beach in open water.
Bathers jumped in to rescue a Florida mother stranded on an inflatable swan with her 7-year-old son who was swept away by the sea due to a rip current.
Declan said after this incident he learned an important lesson and warned other young swimmers about his mistake.
“Now I know I’ll never go out on a float in the ocean again,” he said.