A deputy sheriff from Oregon nearly died after jumping into 50 degree water off Oregon’s southern coast to save a 14-year-old boy stuck in a rip current.
Deputy Sheriff Terry Brown was one of the first responders to arrive to Harris Beach Monday night after receiving a 911 call that a boy, wading in just a few feet of water, had been sucked into a rip current and pulled around 100 yards off shore.
The boy, seventh-grader Joshua Peterson, thought he was stranded alone and that his friends, one of whom called 911, could not hear him.
“A wave came up from behind me,” Joshua told ABC News. “I was thinking no one could hear me as I was shouting for help.”
When Brown, the father of a five-year-old daughter, arrived at the scene, he put on a life vest and dove into the water.
“You don’t just stand on the shore and watch somebody die when you know you can do something about it,” Brown told ABC News.
Brown reached Joshua but also got caught in the rip current and had to release the rope he brought with him in order to keep them both from going under. The pair treaded water together and kept talking as they waited for help.
“I was asking him if he had a wife and kids,” Joshua said of his rescuer. “He had a wife and a five-year-old daughter.”
“Multiple times he told me he didn’t want to die,” Brown said of Joshua. “It wasn’t me saving him. It was more we were fighting. We were in it together.”
Brown began to lose consciousness as multiple attempts to rescue the pair were beaten back by a churning surf.
A rescue swimmer from the Curry County Water Rescue team was eventually able to tie ropes to Joshua and Brown so they could be pulled ashore.
Both were suffering from hypothermia and rushed to a local hospital. After spending the night together in the same hospital room, Joshua and Brown are expected to both make full recoveries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.