Southern California beachgoers are very familiar with rip currents, which can sweep unprepared swimmers out to sea in an instant.
This powerful – and sometimes deadly – force of nature was captured on video in New Jersey over Labor Day Weekend when a bodyboarder jumped into action to save a man who was struggling to get back to shore.
The incident happened on Sunday, Sept. 3 at Long Island Beach.
Footage recorded by Steve Houser shows him paddling out to a man who, along with several other people, was being pulled into deeper water by a fast-moving rip current.
With the help of another swimmer, the man grabs onto the bodyboard. Houser then pulls him through the heavy surf and safely back into shallow water, the video shows.
“Happy to be in the right place at the right time!” Houser posted on his YouTube channel.
After the rescue, the swimmer, Gabe McCabe, acknowledged he was in serious trouble.
“Before I realized what happened, I was about 20 yards further out … out of my depth, just in the space of a couple of seconds,” McCabe said.
He says Houser, a U.S. Marine veteran, “without a doubt” saved his life.
“Such an unfortunate situation but so glad to have made a lifelong friend in the end! When you think you can’t help, most likely, you can,” Houser said.
Rip currents turned Labor Day Weekend into a deadly one along the New Jersey coast as two swimmers drowned and another was presumed dead after getting swept away.
Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of water that can move as quickly as eight feet per second, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lifeguards rescue tens of thousands of people from rip currents each year and they claim roughly 100 lives per year in the U.S.
“If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it! Swim parallel to the shore and swim back to land at an angle,” NOAA advises.