'If it weren’t for them, we would be planning a funeral,’ Beachgoers save drowning teen on Oak Island

Jackson Boswell
Jackson Boswell(Catherine Wadford)
Updated: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) - Catherine Wadford is holding her children a little tighter after her son had a medical emergency in the ocean last weekend at the Oak Island pier.

The mother never expected to spend Labor Day weekend in the hospital with her 17-year-old son, Jackson Boswell, hooked up to a ventilator.

“If it weren’t for them, we would’ve been planning a funeral—not sitting at home with our child today," said Wadford. “He suffered a grand mal seizure and fell into the water and was floating face down, apparently, when the surfer, Austin found him and started pulling him in.”

Austin Somers was teaching a surf lesson when one of his students noticed something was wrong.

A 10-year-old girl had realized Jackson needed help and she started screaming for help. Beachgoers were struggling to pull Boswell from the water and Somers was able to get his lifeless body to the safety of the sand.

“I was pretty much holding him the whole time walking in and looking at him so I knew how bad off he was…he was completely blue…lifeless, just dead weight,” said Somers. “He looked awful. I thought it was way too late.”

Somers was prepared to begin CPR on Boswell, but two nurses happened to be on the beach and began chest compressions as soon as Jackson was pulled to shore. Oak Island Water Rescue officials were able to quickly transport the teen to a waiting ambulance so he could be rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

On most calls, we don't get much information about the final outcome for the patient. Sometimes none at all, which...

Posted by Oak Island Water Rescue on Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Harper and Kennedy Gordon watched the entire scene unfold from their surf boards.

“The boy is just so lucky; if people weren’t there then, like, he might have not made it,” said Harper Gordon.

The people who saved Jackson all admit they don’t feel like heroes.

“I don’t consider myself to be a hero. I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Somers.

But the amazing teamwork of everyone involved changed what would have been a tragedy to an awakening of humanity and a story of strength.

“It was amazing to see how God placed the right people at the right time, all the way from a 10-year-old girl to a CNA—it was not a village, it was an island that took care of Jackson,” said Wadford.

Jackson was released from the hospital Wednesday and has been resting up at home ever since. He is expected to make a full recovery.

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