Troop 226 leader and scout in the news
Conn Cole was able to fight past the breaking waves, he was pulled out to sea by the rip current just as the swimmer had been. As he approached the man in the water, Conn Cole also was tired from fighting the sea. But he pressed on toward the swimmer, who was now starting to slip under the water.We give thanks for Nicholas' sharp eyes and Conn's brave action that saved the life of a swimmer.
"I didn't realize how far out he really was until I got out there," he said. "I remember thinking I just hope I can get to him in time."
Nicholas Cole said everyone was relieved to see his dad help the man up onto the board. At that point, they were about 100 yards from the beach.
"We knew Dad had the guy and everything was going to be OK," he said.
By the time his dad hit the surf, he had probably been in the water 25 minutes or more. Conn Cole said the man identified himself as James Bennett and said he had been swimming and enjoying the waves and just got swept out too far from shore.
"The guy was so exhausted he could barely stand [when he finally reached the beach]," Nicholas Cole said.
Bennett's family and friends, who had not realized what had happened until it was over, rushed over to two men. An ambulance arrived several minutes later and Bennett was taken to the Fernandina. Conn Cole said was unable to get any information about Bennett because of medical privacy laws, but the medical staff did tell him that the man was released later that night.
Nicholas Cole said he has a new level of respect for his dad because of his selfless act.
"For him to risk his own safety to do something like that, that's pretty cool," he said. "If we had acted one minute later, I don't think he would have reached him in time."
Tribune & Georgian photo by Alan Nesmith.