JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man nearly drowned this week in Sisters Creek, just west of Fort George Island, after he jumped out of his boat to rescue his dog.
Fortunately, nearby boaters heard Tyler Boylston's screams for help and came to the rescue.
Boylston told News4Jax on Friday that he's just thankful to get to spend another weekend with his family.
"I haven't cried this much in my life, just out of gratefulness, just to be alive," he said.
Boylston and his family's new 10-week-old puppy, named Charlie, went out in the boat on Monday when Charlie jumped into the water, Tyler panicked and went in after him.
The current pushed him about 50 yards away from his boat.
"I starting swimming toward shore. After about 15 minutes of this, I realized I'm not getting anywhere, so I started treading water and yelling at the top of my lungs for someone to help me," Boylston said. "After about 30 minutes of treading water, I was getting to the point of exhaustion. I couldn't move anymore."
Gregory S. Johnson, who was onshore, heard the screams and started yelling for help too.
"He starts waving his hands, saying, 'Help.' And I'm, like, 'What in the world is going on?'" Johnson recounted. "He had jumped out to grab his dog and was drowning. He couldn't keep his head (above water). It kept going underwater, underwater. He made it. He barely made it. I mean, he was that close to being done."
As he treaded water with Charlie hanging on his shoulder, it was the first time in his life, Boylston said, that he said to himself, "This is it. I'm not going to make it."
"I just kept thinking about my wife and my three kids. It was the first time I ever said that 'I don't know if I can go any longer. My body will not continue to move.' And I didn't see any boats coming by, so I just started preparing for what was to come," he said. "It got pretty emotional."
Then, boaters appeared out of nowhere and rescued Boylston and his puppy. He said he will be forever grateful for their help.
"I just want to express my heart and how much it meant that they (were) selfless to come sacrifice themselves to come get me out," Boylston said.
Boylston went to UF Health Jacksonville and was released late Monday night.
His dog, Charlie, is also doing just fine.
After the life-changing experience, Boylston said, he will be hugging his wife and children a little bit tighter.
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