St. Johns deputy rescues 12-year-old from ocean


VILANO BEACH, Fla. – A St. Johns County deputy rescued a 12-year-old boy from the ocean on Thursday after the boy was caught in a strong current south of the Vilano Beach jetties.

Deputy T.C. Coward was on routine beach patrol at 6 p.m. when a woman approached him to tell him two people appeared to be in distress in the water.

Coward saw the boy, Austin Wesp of St. Augustine, being taken out to sea by the current and yelling for help. Coward took off his duty belt and equipment, grabbed a life vest from the patrol vehicle and went after Wesp, who was about 40-50 yards away from shore.

Coward reached Wesp and with assistance from an unidentified man with a surfboard, the two brought Wesp to the beach.

Channel 4 spoke with Coward on Friday, and he said he didn't see his act as heroism.

"I don't see it that way, doing what I was trained to do," Coward said. "Been a swimmer all my life, so I knew I could go out and get them. But I didn't want two people to be out there in distress, because he was quite a ways."

Wesp and two other children had entered the water and been immediately overcome by waves and rough current, but the two other children were able to make it back to shore on their own.

All three were treated at the scene for minor injuries by County Fire/Rescue personnel.