Nicholas Co. teenager helps save children from ocean in Georgia

Lexington, Ky. (WKYT) – As school gets ready to resume, many of you may be looking to spend the last few days by the pool, lake, or beach.

For many, the summer months mean time spent at the water’s edge, but it can also get dangerous.

Already in 2021, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife reports that there have been 35 deaths on Kentucky waterways.

WKYT’s Amber Philpott has a message from a central Kentucky teenager after a day at the beach for her family turned into a rescue mission for another.

When 17-year-old Drew Anderson decided to become a lifeguard, it was of course a summer job, but those who know him say it suits him. “He’s just a good boy, he has a good heart, he’s always ready to help people,” said Mandy Anderson, Drew’s mother.

The teenager from Nicholas Co. who works at the Cynthiana Country Club spends his days staring at dozens of swimmers.

He had a few close calls while on duty, but it was recently a family vacation to Tybee Island, Georgia where he really had to put his lifeguard skills to the test.

“We were talking and the next thing I know, it only took a second,” Anderson said.

Drew says he remembers seeing two young children quite far from shore.

“The upwash was really strong that day, so he was just pulling them over there,” said Drew Anderson.

In an instant, the situation escalated and Drew took action without even thinking about it.

“Then I saw the children’s fathers screaming at the beach lifeguard for help and at that point I immediately swam towards the children and didn’t think about it, just immediately swam. One of the kids, they said they were dying and drowning and it was very sad, ”Anderson said.

Drew and his dad were able to bring the family to safety while mum Mandy watched in dumbfoundedness.

“It kind of hit me wow, it could have ended very differently, so after the first kind of shock and panic I was very proud,” said Mandy Anderson.

Stop Drowning Now, a water safety education group, says 10 people drown every day in the United States and about 3,400 people drown each year.

It is also the leading cause of death in one to four year olds.

“For a lot of people they will go to a local park, beach or pool and they assume I drop my kids off lifeguards to take care of them, when you think the lifeguard might have 200 people in the pool watching a times and you want to watch your kids, you had better be with your kids, ”Letitia Hollingsworth-Gray said.

Letitia Hollingsworth-Gray is Director of the Lancaster Aquatics Center on the UK campus.

She says we should all be able to recognize victims in the water. “One would be a swimmer in distress and that could be the one who could call you and you could see their arms,” Hollingsworth-Gray said.

But it can quickly turn into active drowning. “It’s going to go from someone trying to swim with their feet behind them to an upright position, and the only time they raise their arms out of the water is not to wave and get your attention,” but he’s going to have that breath of fresh air, ”Hollingsworth-Gray said.

She also says that if you are going to be near water you need to know CPR.

“If you don’t feel comfortable giving someone a breath, at least chest compressions will help,” Hollingsworth-Gray said.

Fortunately, Drew Anderson didn’t have to perform CPR on the people he helped save, but it was a real lesson in life.

He hopes we can all learn from this summer.

Remember, if someone drowns, call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you can reach the victim, try to keep them calm and reach them or throw a flotation device at them.

Also, if you are sailing, always make sure you have a life jacket for everyone on board.

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