An extraordinary and dramatic rescue was caught on camera after a mother drove her minivan into the ocean in Daytona Beach, Fla., with her three children inside.
Lifeguards and bystanders raced across the sand Tuesday in an attempt to stop the minivan, which was driving straight into the pounding surf.
The mother and her three children — ages 3, 9 and 10 — were trapped inside the sinking vehicle.
“It started to go down pretty quick,” said one bystander. “She went straight into the water.”
In the video, the mother is nearly dragged under the car, sucked in by the tide. One man was able to successfully carry two of the children away despite a massive struggle to get back to the shore.
“Watching them carry the kids out of the van was very emotional,” the bystander added.
The third child was still stuck inside with the unrelenting waves threatening to swallow the van as it continued to slide into the surf. Fortunately, another lifeguard is seen on the video jumping out the back of the minivan carrying the child to safety.
That same lifeguard ultimately needed to be rescued himself as the rough waves continued pulling the vehicle further and further into the water.
“The lifeguard went in the car to rescue the little girl, and then he was stuck himself in the car, so the other lifeguard took him back out of the car,” said Simon Besner, who caught the terrifying scene on camera.
Authorities are still investigating how that minivan ended up in the ocean. They say the mother was incoherent when they tried to speak with her.
The local ABC affiliate in Daytona reported that the Department of Children and Families is also investigating the incident.
The mother is undergoing a mental health evaluation and her kids have been placed in the care of the state, officials said.
As for the heroic rescuers, Besner said: “They did a really nice job. They did an excellent job.”