It was a beautiful afternoon in 2014, but the clear blue skies and the temperate ocean air belied the dangers that were just beyond the shore. And for one California teenager, 46-year-old Gary Golding was the only thing that stood between him and a grisly drowning death.
The boy had been swept away by a monstrous rip current while swimming at Abalone Cove in Rancho Pales Verdes, California, and he was all alone.
And the Golding almost lost his own life in the process. But when the would-be hero saw the teenager obviously in great distress, he followed his instincts and jumped in to try to rescue the floundering boy.
Torrential tides at the same location had taken another swimmer’s life earlier that day, so he knew these waves were nothing to mess around with...
Within seconds, he knew he had taken on more than he expected, as the rise and fall of the current tossed him around like so much driftwood. Time and again, he tried to get near enough to the teen to reach out to him but, again and again, he got pushed back by the waves.
“At that point, I really realized how helpless I was, and I was basically fighting for my life.” said the would-be rescuer, Golding.
After what seemed like hours but was in reality only moments, it became clear that the teenager was now unconscious, but Golding was no closer to the boy than he had been earlier.
Tiring quickly from fighting against the waves, Golding was becoming fatigued and could do nothing more than tread water to try to keep his own head above the unrelenting torrents. That’s when his friend Rob McNulty stepped into action.
McNulty realized that his friend was now in trouble and, if he didn't do something quickly, there would be two drowning deaths that afternoon. He took ‘a leap of faith’ and plunged, headfirst, into the crashing waves.
When he emerged, he was able to spot the seemingly lifeless boy under the water, and with Golding by his side, McNulty was able to bring the unconscious victim to the rocks on the other side of the cove.
At that point, it did not look good. Golding recalls, “Rob said, ‘I think he’s dead.’ And I was like, ’No, no! We’re not gonna give up on this kid.’"
Continuing CPR until the lifeguards arrived, the two heroes stayed around to watch the teen being airlifted to a local hospital, where the boy made a full recovery. The rescue duo spoke with the victim afterward, and they recall the words of gratitude the boy expressed to the men.
The grateful teenager (whose identity has not been released) told them just how close to the end he was when they appeared. McNulty shares, “If I hadn’t gotten him, within a minute more, he would have been dead.”
Thank goodness Golding and McNulty were on hand that day, or the story would have had a much different ending. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the two men, there was a dramatic and death-defying rescue, instead.
To see the nail-biting, death-defying rescue, watch the video, below.