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Woman rescues three swimmers from rip current at Fort Fisher

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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FORT FISHER, N.C. (WECT) -What started as a normal day at the beach quickly took a turn Sunday at Fort Fisher as beachgoers watched in horror as three men were swept out in a rip current.

“I could see him start to kind of go under and waving his hands so I looked my sister and I said ‘oh my gosh i think they’re in serious trouble,’” explained Diana Ricker, who witnessed the entire ordeal. “I’ve never seen anybody in distress like that in the ocean, so to see those three with just sheer panic on their face, you could just see in their eyes, it was a terrifying thing.”

That’s when Ricker’s sister, Jennifer Williamson, who is also a member of the Coast Guard, put down her sunglasses and jumped into action.

Williamson has nearly a decade of experience and knew she had to get to the distressed swimmers quick.

“My adrenaline just took over… my training that I had with Coast Guard is what got me where I needed to go to help them,” said Jennifer Williamson.

She borrowed a boogie board and let the current take her out until she reached the first victim, who was having trouble keeping his head above water.

“I said ‘Don’t panic, you’re gonna be alright’ and when I finally reached him, the look in his eyes... you could tell he was very fearful for his life. I said ‘You’re gonna be fine, don’t worry, you’re gonna be OK,’” said Williamson.

As the first swimmer coughed up saltwater, she paddled over and saved the two others who were frantically trying to stay afloat. Williamson swam all of them 150 yards back to shore as all three clung to the boogie board.

“Everyone was clapping and the guys hugged her, high-fived her. With one of the guys, they were actually embraced arm in arm when they were walking out of the water. It just gives me chills. It was definitely a very proud moment and a very happy ending” said Ricker.

Williamson’s heroic actions allowed everyone to walk away from the terrifying ordeal and even while off-duty, she embodied the coast guard’s famous motto: “Always Ready.”

“I just did what I would do any other day in uniform or not in uniform,” said Williamson.

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