Hero firefighter from New York rescues three girls stuck in North Carolina riptide
A New York state firefighter is being credited with saving three girls caught in a deadly rip current off North Carolina's Emerald Isle.
A hero firefighter from New York garnered praise and respect from onlookers for rescuing three young girls who were caught in a riptide along a beachfront in North Carolina.
He saved the girls just a couple of days after reports emerged of a 4-year-old boy being drowned by the current off the same coast.
Oswego Fire Department star Sean O'Gorman, who was vacationing with his family in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, noticed two girls treading water unable to make their way back to the shore. He then saw a third girl rushing to rescue them, but she was also struggling along with the other two, reported Fox News.
The fireman ran to the girls' mother to notify her of her daughters' plight. She immediately called 911. However, suspecting that it could be too late when authorities arrived at the scene, O'Gorman took it upon himself to rescue the girls and swam towards them.
"We were sitting, watching the girls playing in the water about 75 yards out, and I noticed they stopped trying to get back to the shore, and I think they were caught in a rip current. Then we heard someone yell, 'Help',” O’Gorman told The Charlotte Observer.
"I ran to the mother and asked her if they had a plan. Her husband was going to get a surfboard ... but I didn't know how to use it. I decided to swim out, which was easy. Getting back was a struggle, with me trying to tow them all in. They were hooked onto my feet," O'Gorman said.
The hero patted the girls on the back, saying they "did not panic". He also said that the local fire department “would’ve gotten to them” even if he hadn't made the effort.
"The girls did not panic," O'Gorman said. "They were calm. And by the time we got to shore, the Emerald Isle Fire Department and rescue people were there. Their parents thanked me and everything, but I believe Emerald Isle's Fire Department would have gotten to them if I hadn't gone out."
O'Gorman had recently completed swift water rescue training at the Oswego Fire Department. He said that by “using the aggressive swim, forceful crawl stroke,” he was successfully able to reach the girls who were stuck in the tide.
In a conversation with Fox News, Justin Norfleet, the Deputy Fire Chief for Emergency Management said that their department trains “extensively for marine operations including swift water rescue, ice rescue, and dive operations". He also said that they are responsible for the Oswego River and the shores of Lake Ontario in Central New York.
Just one day prior to O'Gorman's successful rescue, Kitty Hawk police ended the search for a 4-year-old boy who was swept out to sea while walking with his mother in shallow waters on a beach when a wave came crashing onto the shore, knocking both off their feet, reported The Washington Post.
The missing boy was pulled by a rip current and drowned off the Outer Banks on Wednesday. Authorities suspended the search for the New Hampshire resident a day later and said that they have “now transitioned to recovery efforts.”
North Carolina is known for its life-threatening rip currents. These currents, popularly known as riptides, are strong, narrow channels of water that can move at speeds of up to eight feet per second. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, North Carolina stands second to only Florida in rip current deaths between 1996 and 2016. Until now, the riptides have claimed 54 lives in the said duration.
O'Gorman joined the Oswego Fire Department in 2000, according to officials.