Four American brothers were visiting Ireland when a day at the beach turned into a life-or-death rescue.
According to the Washington Post, brothers Declan, Eoghan, and Walter Butler and their brother-in-law Alex Thomson (ages 18-24) had just arrived at Portmarnock Beach, near Dublin, when they heard someone crying for help.
It was a six-year-old girl, whose pink, flamingo-shaped raft was being swept out to sea. Without thinking twice, all four of the brothers dived into the surf.
It took the brothers 25 minutes of hard swimming in cold and rough water to get close enough to the girl to reassure her that they would save her as she clung to her raft. According to the brothers she had floated roughly a half-mile out to sea at that point.
“I knew we were getting deep, but I didn’t care,” Declan Butler told the Washington Post. “I just didn’t want to give up on her.”
Luckily for everyone involved the brothers were experienced swimmers and athletes, three of whom have swum competitively and one of whom even had experience as a rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard.
Still, the rescue was harrowing and they had to work together to bring the girl back to land, with the rescue taking nearly an hour. According to the Washington Post:
“When they finally reached her, they helped keep her head above water and took turns swimming on their backs with the girl on their chests as they made their way against the current back to shore.”
After they got the girl to shore the brothers went back to retrieve her father who, despite not being a strong swimmer, had also jumped in to help with the rescue.
After a short visit to the hospital, the girl was released and her family visited the brothers to express their thanks.
In an incredible coincidence, the brothers told the Washington Post that they were in Ireland to celebrate the life of their grandfather, who recently passed, and who had a brother who drowned some sixty years ago on the same exact date of the rescue.
As Walter Butler told the Post:
“It’s kind of like this godly, guardian angel kind of feeling that the same day he drowned 64 years ago is the day we actually saved the life of a 6-year-old girl.”
h/t: Washington Post