18-year-old drowns trying to help friends escape rip current
Rescue crews used boats, jet skis, helicopters in search for missing swimmer
ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – An 18-year-old high school senior helped push two of his friends to shore Sunday after they were all caught in a rip current, but he was swept out to sea and drowned, authorities said.
Jaylen Lott, who was set to graduate from Lowndes High School, in Valdosta, Georgia, in two weeks, was caught in a rip current near the area of Ocean Trace Road, along with a 23-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy.
Police said Lott pushed the other two back to shore until his uncle came into the water to help. Lott told his uncle to help the other two because they were tired, and he tried to swim back himself but never made it to shore, police said.
Other people saw what was happening and went into the water to help.
"I saw a lot of people moving toward the water's edge and a couple of guys swimming out. So I ran over to see what I can do to help," said beachgoer Wiley Page, one of the rescuers who sprang into action to help Lott's uncle.
Page told News4Jax that he entered the water and noticed a rescuer who was 35 yards out, pulling in the woman who had been with Lott.
“He was having trouble and was saying he needed help," Page said. "So I swam to him and we brought her in the rest of the way.”
He said a retired firefighter helped rescued the 14-year-old boy.
Helicopters, boats and jet skis were used in the search for Lott, who was pulled, unresponsive, from the water about an hour later.
Witnesses saw rescuers performing CPR on Lott after he was pulled from the water about 5 p.m., but he never regained consciousness.
The teen was taken to Flagler Hospital in critical condition and died just before 5:40 p.m. Sunday, authorities said.
Page said, from what he could tell, Lott and the others were on a sandbar during low-tide and about 3:30 p.m., high-tide came in very quickly. That was confirmed by the woman he helped rescue.
“She said to us, once we got her on the beach, that they were standing in waist-deep water and before they knew it, they were in chest-deep water. Then, they couldn't touch the bottom," Page said.
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