Water safety top of mind in Wildwood, New Jersey after recent water rescues

WILDWOOD, New Jersey (WPVI) -- On Thursday, lifeguards in Wildwood demonstrated a water rescue after multiple water rescues have occurred over the past couple of days.

"It does not matter if you are a strong swimmer or not, the rip current can over power you," said Ed Schneider, captain of Wildwood Beach Patrol.

The process of rescuing someone has also become more complicated because of coronavirus.

"We are not making physical contact with a conscious drowning victim," said Schneider.

Tyree Ward, a tow truck driver from Philadelphia, jumped in to save 20-year-old, Katie Stonehill, from Millville New Jersey, who was drowning in a rip current.

Stonehill said she was in knee deep water around 8 p.m. on Monday, when a strong rip current pulled her out to sea.

"My life was just flashing before my eyes," said Stonehill.

Stonehill said she initially felt a huge wave pull her in.

"I couldn't move my head, my arms, there was no way to really stay afloat," said Stonehill.

Ward was on the beach with his girlfriend when he saw Stonehill struggling, and jumped in to save her.

"It was almost instinct you know," said Ward.

While it may be instinct to jump in and try to save someone drowning, officials do not recommend it because you, yourself, can also become a victim. Instead, call 9-1-1.

"Don't go in the water, because you're putting our rescuers at risk," said Schneider, referring to swimming after lifeguards are off-duty.

Schneider said it takes years for professionals to identify and read a rip current.

"To the naked eye the water is the water, and they don't see the danger," said Schneider referring to vacationers coming to the beach without lifeguard training.

If you do find yourself in rip current it's important for people to, "stay calm, recognize that they are in a rip current, and they want to try to swim parallel to shore," said Schneider.
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