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Capt. Allen Wilson of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office is used to helping people in need, but it’s usually done in Nash County in his role with the agency’s special operations division. On Sunday, however, his jurisdiction extended all the way to Atlantic Beach.
Wilson, who was on vacation with his family, noticed a young swimmer struggling with a float in the water nearby. The child was part of a group of six children from Maryland who had been playing near Pine Knoll Shores when she began to drift away from the rest of the children.
As Wilson continued to watch, he noticed a young boy within the group trying to bring the girl back closer to the shore, but was boy was not able to do so in the strong current and the girl continued to be pulled farther and farther away from the shore.
Wilson told his son to bring him one of their boogie boards and also located a pool rescue flotation device nearby and entered the water swimming about 100 yards out to the little girl.
Wilson was able to use the two flotation devices to keep the girl afloat, but the two then had to struggle with the current to return to the shore.
“I asked her if she was able to swim to me,” said Wilson. “But she was panicking, it was obvious that she was panicking.”
According to Wilson, the swim back to shore was grueling.
“You could feel the current pulling us out,” he said. “We tried to swim it, but we weren’t going anywhere.”
With fatigue setting in, Wilson and the child were able to catch one of the waves and ride it closer to shore where they were able to exit the water. The child was checked out by medical personnel and released.
Wilson said the experience left him exhausted, adding that he’s not a very strong swimmer in the first place. The name of the child he rescued was not released.