News 12 First at Five / Friday, July 19, 2013
Skyler Hyde (WRDW-TV)
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- A local teenager is being considered a hero after saving a 14-year-old girl from drowning in the ocean.
Skyler Hyde, 18, and his family were vacationing in Hunting Island.
"We were just out on the beach underneath our little gazebo thing playing volleyball, reading or doing whatever," he said.
It's a trip the Hydes take every year, but this year it was a little different.
"We heard a group of people start to yell and scream," Skyler said. "I heard them say, 'We're drowning.'"
When he looked up, four people were struggling to hold on to a boogie board.
"Water was moving at a clip," said his father, Monty Hyde. "I mean, that's how fast it was moving, and we watched the people on that boogie board disappear one at a time. It was unbelievable."
Skyler, his dad and brother took off for the water. Skyler reached the 14-year-old girl.
"I was able to get to her, so I calmed her down and then got her onto my back and swam in," Skyler said.
By the time his brother reached the boogie board, the other three were gone.
"I didn't come out of the water until my dad nudged me along because I was just hoping we would see someone," Skyler said.
"I'm very, very proud of them," Monty said. "I told them that same day that God put them there for a reason."
Since Sunday, authorities have found the bodies of the other three.
"It was difficult to cope with not being able to help all four, but helping one is better than helping none," Skyler said.
Skyler said the 14-year-old seemed to be OK physically.
"The following morning when I walked out of the trailer she and her mom were driving by in a car and they kinda stopped and got out and said that they had been looking for me because the girl wanted to thank me," Skyler said.
"She's not done," Monty said. "God's not done with her yet."
The body of the last swimmer was recovered on Wednesday.
The drowning victims include a 16-year-old and his 38-year-old father from Chesnee, S.C., and a 17-year old from Philadelphia.
Investigators say it was a rip current that pulled them under and none of the three could swim.
Skyler says it teaches a valuable lesson that no matter how strong of a swimmer you are, the ocean is always stronger than you.