HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - A Hanover County man is being hailed a hero after a fun day to the beach turned into a family emergency.
Stuart Patterson, 39, was on Ocracoke Island with his wife, two children and family friends when all of a sudden four of them became stuck in dangerous rip currents.
It was supposed to be a thrilling weekend on the beach highlighting summer vacation. Instead, a different kind of thrill arose.
"We just found a spot, parked the car, unloaded everything and started swimming and fishing and playing in the sand and everybody's doing their own thing," Patterson said. "Everything was going fine."
The kids were riding boogie boards, but decided to jump off them and into the water. It didn't take long for things to take a terrifying turn.
"The water was waist deep, they dove in ..." Ashley Patterson said. "That's when we heard the first 'help.'"
First, a family friend ran to their rescue. Stuart Patterson quickly followed
"It was just a few seconds before I realized they were in a rip current and they were going out further," Stuart said. "They were in a panic."
Stuart Patterson brought the children in to the shore, but his the friend, Scott, and his daughter were still stuck.
"He was getting sucked out even quicker," Ashley Patterson said. "I said 'you can't do it with one boogie board.' So, I threw out another boogie board to Stuart so he went out with two."
Emergency crews arrived 15 minutes later, but the rescue was already over thanks to Stuart Patterson, who was the real first responder acting on his instincts to think quick.
"I'm not like a superhero or anything," Stuart Patterson said. "I'm not in the best shape of my life. I went out, what to do, they did it and that was it."
But if not for that response, things could have ended much differently.
"Yes, gr anted," Stuart Patterson said. "It felt pretty good to help them out."
Last month a Virginia man died trying to save a girl who was drowning also in North Carolina. At least 12 have died in North Carolina this year as a result of rough ocean conditions.
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