Orange Park man saves himself, 3 others after vessels overturn

By Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter, hwinslow@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 27 2013 07:17:11 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 28 2013 12:26:05 AM EDT

An Orange Park man saves himself and three others after their vessels turn over in the ocean off Huguenot Memorial Park.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

An Orange Park man saved himself and three others after their vessels turn over in the ocean off Huguenot Memorial Park around 3 p.m. Saturday.

Wyatt Bell and his brother were riding the surf on jet skis when his brother capsized.

Bell tried to help him and he too fell off. He said the current was so strong, the jet skis quickly got away from them.

After getting caught in rip currents and treading water for about 15 minutes, Bell said a man, who was towing another overturned jet ski nearby, saw them and went over to help him and his brother.

"While he was getting assisted, I saw a random oar floating in the water," said Bell. "Just past the oar, I saw two kayaks that were turned upside down."

Disoriented, sick and exhausted, Bell raced over to help a little boy and his uncle.

"Just past the kayaks, I see two bodies floating in the water and I made three or four attempts to get them on the back of my ski, but the waves were so close together that it really became a problem," said Bell. "Obviously you can't run them over and the waves are coming over, trying to capsize me again."

They drifted about one mile offshore. Bell had swallowed so much salt water trying to rescue them, he said he kept throwing up.

"I had really bad motion sickness so I was really disoriented and nauseous," said Bell.

But he didn’t give up.

"You're not really thinking about what if, or what could happen to me. You have to go help these people. For a kid to be out there, it's too much," said Bell. “You don't think about yourself in that situation."

Bell couldn't pull them in so he rushed to shore and called for help. Emergency workers raced out to the surf and were able to bring them in to safety.

The boy was transported to Baptist but he and the others are expected to be fine. Bell said he's so grateful they were all wearing life jackets and didn't go out in the ocean alone.

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