Teen's death prompts new water rescue efforts in Surfside Beach - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Teen's death prompts new water rescue efforts in Surfside Beach

“He was always a good kid growing up, and he was raised in the church," said Evan McReynolds's mother. "And he became involved in different plays in church. He liked being on stage for the Lord even though he was pretty quiet.” “He was always a good kid growing up, and he was raised in the church," said Evan McReynolds's mother. "And he became involved in different plays in church. He liked being on stage for the Lord even though he was pretty quiet.”
“Artistically, he started off at 3 years old drawing good pictures," Evan's mother said. "Then he started being musically talented also. The guitar and the piano.” “Artistically, he started off at 3 years old drawing good pictures," Evan's mother said. "Then he started being musically talented also. The guitar and the piano.”

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – One family's loss has completely changed how local first responders handle situations in the water. This comes after a near drowning accident in Surfside Beach in July. First responders are now starting new initiatives to make sure the accident doesn't happen again.

Any time there's an emergency situation in the water, it can be a huge risk for everyone involved.

"We're talking about strong currents, we're talking about waves, that are tremendous in height and force," said Surfside Beach Fire Chief Daniel Cimini. "They're coming down, they're pounding on them."

All Surfside Beach first responders, firefighters, medics and police officers are working on new water rescue training to help them be more prepared when they have to go under the waves.

"There are people who are trying to do a job and they're being pushed around and beat up," Cimini said, especially because you never know which agency will have to respond.

Back in July, Kamaria McReynolds and her 14-year-old son Evan arrived from Ohio with family and friends in Surfside Beach for vacation. Shortly after getting to the beach house, they decided to go out for a late swim in the ocean. The rip current quickly took Evan under.

"This big huge wave came, and it kind of just pushed him out a lot farther than he was before," Kamaria recalled. Then a family member called 911.

"That's the unusual situation, we don't really get a lot of calls at 7:30 or 8:00 at night," Cimini said.

The timing is everything, because once the sun goes down, lifeguards and beach patrol officers aren't on the beach. This left firefighters and police officers, first responders who normally don't touch the water, to rush into the ocean to look for Evan. The surf was so tough it was near impossible to launch the one Jetski owned by Surfside Beach Police.

"You learn very quickly that we weren't very prepared for this type of event," Cimini said.

"At that point I was just frantic," Kamaria remembered. "I didn't know what to do. it was just like the worst feeling."

About an hour after he disappeared, and after several efforts including a chain of people searching through the water, first responders were able to find Evan floating in the water. They pulled him back to the beach and rushed him to the hospital. On the way, a medic was able to get a pulse.

"It took five pushes on his chest and all of a sudden his heart beat came back out of nowhere," Kamaria said. "So it was just really remarkable."

Chief Cimini said responders were relieved to have been able to get Evan on shore and breathing again. "It's very tough for us sometimes when you get in a situation like that, so to be able to get him out and bring him to the hospital at least give them an opportunity."

Evan was transferred to MUSC in Charleston where he was treated for his injuries. Kamaria says his brain was swelling and for a time he needed a machine to continue breathing. Several weeks later, Evan passed away at a hospital in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

After his death, Surfside Beach Police and Fire Rescue came together to take a new approach to water rescues.

"We needed to do some joint training and basically get more involved as a rescue unit," said Cimini.

The departments have since bought water rescue kits, buoys, and lights, all the things they wished they had sooner when they were looking for Evan in the water.

"We feel really confident that we're getting more prepared to handle such a situation should it arise," said Cimini.

Kamaria hopes her son's life will be used to help save others.

"I miss him a lot but God used him," said Kamaria, "God used him for a purpose."

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