Two 12-year-olds rescued after drifting out to sea
SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (NBC) -- A fun day out on the water in California ended with quite a scare for two boys.
The 12-year-olds took a rowboat out on the water to fetch a football.
But the wind blew their boat off the beach and far out into the San Francisco Bay.
One man saw what happened and rushed out to help them.
"I'm lucky to be here right now and not in the bottom of the ocean.”
That’s what Jack Olinger and his buddy Christian Pryfogle said when they talked about their terrifying afternoon.
Sitting in this eight-foot rowboat that was adrift and taking on water on San Francisco Bay.
The two 12-year-olds wondered if they would survive.
"Me and Jack were just balling and balling and crying and weeping and we're like we're never getting back,” said Pryfogle.
They might not have gotten back if not for Nick Tumilowicz, who stripped down to his underwear, jumped into the 55-degree water and swam nearly a mile.
With the eight-foot rowboat sinking, he grabbed the boys by their life jackets, told them to lay on their backs and kick while he hauled them to the closest pier.
"It was a pretty gnarly situation. They were freaked out, and for that 200 meter swim, I was a little freaked out, too, because there was no boat and I was holding their two jackets with one hand and doing the side stroke up to the pier, but we made it happen,” said Tumilowicz.
They were all at the Candlestick Point Recreation area near the stadium for a 50th birthday party.
The boys got in the boat to get a football that landed in the water, but it was windy and an umbrella on the boat acted like a sail.
"We got the football and we realized, 'oh, no, we're probably not going to get it back.' so we tried to paddle to the shore and they're yelling at us,” said Orlinger.
Two other unidentified men also stripped down and jumped in the water and had to be rescued.
But it was Nick Tumilowicz, a lifeguard for 15 years, who was able to reach the boys.
"That was just the thing to do, yeah, not sure I’d call myself a hero,” said Tumilowicz.
"He’s a hero. He saved me and my friend's life and we wouldn't have been able to get back without him,” said Pryfogle.
The San Francisco Fire Department also took part in the rescue. There was some mild hypothermia, but everyone was fine. The two friends are set to start 7th grade at San Francisco’s Gateway Middle School on Monday.
They said they'll be ready when the teacher asks them what they did this summer.