A mom and daughter were at a beach in Monterey, California when the daughter, 10-year-old Haylee Whiting, went to play in the water. Soon after she started playing in the water, she was taken under a rip current and began to drown. She was able to call out to her mom, Samantha Whiting, for help but she also got taken under and they both were stuck in the water.
“I was thinking this is not happening. There’s no way I’m being pulled out. I was terrified,” Haylee said to ABC7. Her mom told the news outlet that she was terrified when she heard her daughter’s scream for help, “I will never forget her face when she said, ‘Mom, help me!'”
Kevin Cozzi was fortunately at the beach at that time and heard the mother and daughter yelling for help. “I’ve been swimming since I was 3 years old competitively, so I felt like I could get to them. I ran out there and as soon as I got to the mom, I knew she was struggling,” Cozzi explained to ABC7. He was able to rescue the two and they were grateful for him saving their lives.
The two suffered no physical injuries and the family was able to make the most out of the rest of their vacation. But Samantha realized they never got Kevin’s last name so they had no way to show their thanks. “There were hundreds of people on the beach that day and he was the only one brave enough to do that,” she explained to ABC7, “I knew there were no words to thank him enough for what he did, a complete stranger risking his life to save us.”
She searched social media and the two were later reconnected. Cozzi told Samantha that he was about to get married and she wanted to help in any way she could. “My daughter had the idea to raise money for him to help with his wedding, honeymoon, or just anything else they might need,” Samantha said.
So, they made him and his fiance a GoFundMe page to help raise funds so they can have the perfect wedding. The mom and daughter tell ABC7 that they plan to attend the wedding next fall. Cozzi expressed his gratitude and said, “That girl being saved was enough for me.”