STOW, Ohio (WJW) – Travis Shrout says he and his family had all but wrapped up their vacation in North Carolina during the Fourth of July weekend when he saw them.
“It was our last day at the beach for that week. … Everyone else decided to come back in and get some water, but our family friend asked me to go back out so he could test some tracking features on his drone,” said Shrout, 18.
Shrout, a sophomore at Ohio’s Hiram College, said he was pretty far out in the ocean at Topsail Beach when he noticed a mother and son struggling in the water.
“When I first started talking to her, she was right next to him. By the time I got to her, he was sucked out probably 15 feet. It’s just crazy how fast that current was moving,” Shrout said.
Shrout said his lifeguard skills, learned at the YMCA in Akron, Ohio, immediately kicked in. First, he swam over to the mom and gave her his bodyboard.
“As soon as I gave that to her, I just started swimming as fast as I could out to the 10-year-old boy. He was going up and down in the water. He had probably gone down about four or five times,” Shrout said.
He got under the boy’s body and told him to lean back. Moments later, when mom joined them with the bodyboard, all three started to float to shore. But the ocean had a mind of its own, and they weren’t in the clear yet.
“There was a couple of waves that came over our heads and I didn’t know how many more of those waves were gonna come. They completely submerged all of us. So, that was kind of scary,” Shrout said.
Shrout and the mom put the boy back on the bodyboard. He said she let go and tried to swim closer in but barely moved.
“So I said, ‘Let’s just float here. We’ll figure it out. We’re not in any immediate danger anymore. You know, we can get in,'” Shrout said.
Though it was demanding rescue, Shrout remained calm. Eventually, another teen swam in with a second bodyboard and helped pull the trio to shore.
“I mean, I was exhausted that last couple of meters in that push. I don’t think I would have been able to bring them out without that,” Shrout said.
Since the rescue, family, friends, strangers on social media and even his former boss at Riverfront YMCA have praised Shrout for his bravery. He said the attention really isn’t his style, but he hopes the story will bring awareness.
“If it can help, you know, just one person become aware about the dangers of how crazy that current can be and how scary the ocean can be, then why not tell it?” he said.