Four U.S. Navy sailors were enjoying a Florida beach with their families last weekend when cries for help led them to save the lives of two teenage women drowning off the coast.
Chief Petty Officer Aniahau Desha, Seaman Gaston Yescas, Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Lucius, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Essick were in Hurlburt, Fla., for the 2018 Armed Forces Volleyball Championship. But the weekend will now be remembered more for what happened on the Naval Station Mayport Beach than on the court.
“I was on the beach with my wife, and everyone showed up there, Josh, Sheldon, and Gaston. We’d just sat down, and some ladies came up the beach were yelling for help, seeing that the girls were out in the waves, needing help," Desha said, according to U.S. Armed Forces Sports. "They were in trouble, so we just ran into the water and got them."
The sailors swam roughly 75 yards offshore to reach the two teens, one of whom was holding on to her unresponsive friend.
“When we got on shore, as soon as I picked her up, I noticed that she wasn’t breathing," Desha said. "It was obvious that she wasn’t breathing. I checked for her pulse – there was no pulse. So we immediately started chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth."
Desha and Yesca conducted CPR until emergency personnel arrived.
The swimmer who was unresponsive was taken to the hospital, but has since been released, according to Thomas Lyszkowski, First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services assistant fire chief.
“Since I’m a corpsman up to date with the CPR certifications and all, and I was also a lifeguard for eight years, this was honestly like a normal drill, I would say. I’ve been in a lot of incidents like this,” Yescas said.
The sailors' volleyball coach Gilburto Bermudez credited their "quick thinking, bravery, and composure under extreme pressure."
“Because of the actions of these sailors, she’s alive,” Lyszkowski added.
Yescas told U.S. Armed Forces Sports that the teen's mother sent the sailors a message on Facebook letting them know she was discharged from the hospital. The mother said her daughter would be sending the sailors a letter and photo thanking them for their heroic action.
“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that this girl’s going to see another day because of what we did,” Desha said. "For the parents, especially, and as a parent myself, I couldn’t imagine hearing the news that something happened to my daughter. And if someone was there to help, I’d like them to do the same for me if it was my child. So, I’m pretty honored.”