Seven-year-old hero swims a full hour to save family from boating accident: ‘Little man saved our lives’

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JACKSONVILLE, FL – A seven-year-old boy is being credited with helping save both his father and sister after he swam for one hour to reach shore after an incident while out fishing left his father and sister stranded in the water.

On May 28th, 7-year-old Chase Poust went fishing with his father and four-year-old sister at the St. Johns River near Mandarin Point. When the boat was anchored, both Chase and his sister went into the water to go swim, however, a strong current pulled them away from the anchored boat.

Chase spoke about the moments when his sister went astray in the water, and he went after her:

“The current was so strong that my sister–she usually hangs out at the back of the boat and–she let go so I let go of the boat and grabbed her and then I was stuck.”

Chase’s father then jumped into the water as well to get his children.

The young girl was fitted with a life jacket, Chase and his father were not.

With the current pulling the young girl farther away from the boat, Chase opted to try swimming to shore while his father tried to rescue the four-year-old. The father admitted that the current wound up tiring him out, leaving him unable to reach his daughter.

He said:

“I told them I loved him because I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen. I tried to stick with both of them. I wore myself out. She drifted away from me.”

Chase swam for roughly one full hour before reaching shore, noting that he would go from drifting on his back to doing a doggie paddle so as not to get exhausted, while his father and sister remained stranded in the water during the period.

After Chase made it to shore, he ran to a nearby home to seek help.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helped rescue the family, reportedly finding the father and daughter in the waters roughly one-mile away from where their boat was anchored.

The father recounted the experience of being in the waters for so long, recalling him screaming for help:

“I screamed for help at the top of my lungs and waved my arms and sure enough someone heard us. Little man also made it to shore and got help and that’s what saved our lives.”

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Earlier in May, Law Enforcement Today shared another story of heroism while facing the harsh Florida current – this time involving an off-duty police officer who helped saved several people stranded in the water. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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PENSACOLA, FL – On May 9th, an off-duty Pensacola Police officer helped rescue four children and one adult that had gotten caught in a rip current at Johnson beach.

The Pensacola Police Department afforded enormous accolades for the officer’s actions, on top of pointing out the physical feat accomplished during this off-duty rescue effort.

The Pensacola Police Department shared a Facebook post on May 15th detailing the heroic exploits of Officer Anthony Giorgio during that May 9th afternoon on the beach with his family:

“[W]hile you were enjoying your Mother’s Day, Officer Anthony Giorgio was also. He was off-duty and enjoying a postcard perfect day at Johnson Beach with his family. As he was packing up to leave, he heard yelling. Not the kind of yelling that indicates fun and frivolity, but the desperate, terrified screams that accompany near-panic. He turned and saw that four kids were caught in a rip current.”

According to the account provided by the PPD, by standards nearby the incident transpiring at the beach had attempted to create a sort of human chain in an effort to reach the four kids that were caught in the rip current.

However, the four children were stranded in the water at approximately 50 yards out, making the human chain unsuccessful.

Reportedly one adult had ventured out into the water to go and retrieve the kids, but then found herself struggling in the water too.

The posting by the PPD stated that Officer Giorgio had assessed the situation and then preceded to take off at a “dead sprint,” entering the water alongside another man identified as Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class, Reece Raxter.

Officer Giorgio was said to have retrieved one child from the water who was reportedly coming in and out of consciousness while being swam to the shore, and then went back into the water to retrieve another child with the help of an unidentified citizen.

The PPD post made sure to emphasize the physical feat that Officer Giorgio had undertaken when trying to help these stranded children:

“Remember, this is fifty yards out. For comparison, this afternoon, go sprint 100 yards on sand, swim fifty yards a couple of times, and then 100 yards more while carrying another human. You get the picture. Giorgio was gassed, but not done.”

The off-duty officer, alongside two other civilians and Raxter, had ventured back into the water to tend to one of the adults that had went into the water to initially rescue some of the children that had later found themselves caught in the rip current themselves.

Officer Giorgio had rendered first aid to some of the victims before the arrival of Park Rangers and the Escambia Fire Rescue.

When PPD officials inquired about the above heroics after Officer Giorgio returned to work the following day, the department stated I their post that the officer “quick to deflect attention,” and that the heroics of others present were deserving of many accolades for their efforts:

“The next day, Officer Anthony Giorgio was back on his post as a School Resource Officer at Pensacola High School. We heard talk and called him. Then we called the Park Service, the Coast Guard, and the Fire Department just to make sure that we stay faithful to the facts. That is what’s above.

“Giorgio is quick to deflect attention. Many others played important roles too; Harvard shirt guy, former lifeguard guy, blonde nurse, Greg’s son, and white beard guy. He didn’t get their names, but thought it was important that you knew about them.”

The “blonde nurse” was later identified as Erica Shelley, where she spoke out to a local news crew about the Mother’s Day beach incident:

“I don’t feel like a hero, I feel like I reacted just like anyone else would. Looking back, I could have easily become another victim because it was crazy rough out there. But you’re not thinking about that in the situation. You’re just like these kids needs this and you just react.”

Kenya Nguyen is the mother of two of the children that were rescued that day on the beach. Looking back at the situation, she recalled fearing that her children were going to drown in those waters:

“I literally saw my kids’ lives flash before my eyes. It was the scariest, yet the happiest day of my life all at the same time. I was sure that I was not going to have two children and that’s all I have is two children, but I was certain I wasn’t going to go home with any.”

According to news outlet WKRG, the mothers of the four children rescued that day on the beach reportedly are planning something special for Officer Giorgio this upcoming Father’s Day.

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