Familiar heroes: Brothers pull 3 people from rip current at Atlantic Beach -- but this isn’t the first time

Two local brothers pulled three people from the grips of a rip current Thursday at Atlantic Beach.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Two local brothers pulled three people from the grips of a rip current Thursday at Atlantic Beach.

Kevin and Jimmy Partel, two brothers from St. Augustine, said it was just another ordinary day at work repairing dunes at Atlantic Beach when the day took a turn -- turning into a rescue mission.

“It looked like they were right in the middle of a rip current,” Kevin said. “It was a nor’easter yesterday. The waves were big and I didn’t know if they could swim.”

Around 3 p.m. on Thursday, Kevin heard screams coming from the beach.

“I thought it was kids just playing around and then I heard it again,” Kevin said. “I said to my brother, I said ‘Hey, I think someone’s drowning’. And then I saw the family running down the beach.’”

Jimmy recalls that people on the beach began panicking -- and then he saw why.

“(They were)Waving their hands going crazy -- and then three heads bobbing up and down in the water,” Jimmy said.

They didn’t hesitate.

“Within 10 seconds me and my brother -- we were throwing our hats, our phones, our tapes and just running into the water,” Jimmy recalled.

Kevin said he helped a man and a boy, who they estimated to be about 10 years old, stuck about 20 or 25 yards out to sea. He said they were so fatigued they didn’t realize the water was shallow enough for them to stand.

“So once we got the child standing and the other man standing, I got them to shore and I saw my brother was still in the water literally dragging a man out who I saw his eyes roll in the back of his head and that’s when I ran out there to help him, drag him in.”

Jimmy said that man was out farther and in deeper water.

“He was done for in ten more seconds -- he would’ve been floating. Would’ve been a different story.”

The brothers said Emergency Medical Services responded and took that man to the hospital.

“He was conscious. He was breathing. I didn’t have to do CPR or nothing -- thank God.”

And then the Partels went back to work. “Just another day, you know.”

But for the strangers they saved and their loved ones—it’s likely a day they won’t soon forget. Kevin said they didn’t speak much English, but showed their gratitude with pats on the back.

Now, this is the wild part of the story. Nearly 11 years ago, exactly, Jimmy helped save a man and a 10-year-old boy at Vilano Beach. The man he saved was News4JAX Reporter Kent Justice and his son.

Kent said the photo below is of him and his son, Jacob, about three weeks before the rip current event in 2011.

“We had just completed the Soldier Ride for the Wounded Warrior Project. Jacob was 10.

Kent Justice and son Jacob back in 2011

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter