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Teens rescue swimmer on Tybee Island

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - A nightmare at the beach for one family visiting Tybee Island.

Jerry Burns is recovering after drowning and being revived on Tybee Island earlier this month. Now he and his family are looking for the teen who helped save his life.

“We were out about waist deep in the water. We had just been kind of playing into the waves and I looked over and he was laying on his back on the waves and he looked fine until I tried calling him,” said Jerry’s wife Deb Burns.

A nightmare turned into a miracle for Jerry Burns and his family visiting from Asheville, North Carolina.

“That evening we went out into the water and I had one of my episodes where I just blank out,” said drowning victim Jerry Burns.

Jerry has hydrocephalus. It is a condition where fluid builds up inside of the brain, causing him to pass out.

“And then he didn’t respond and as I tried making my way over, he kept getting pulled farther and farther and then a wave washed over him. And we lost sight totally,” said Deb Burns.

“This kid came up in this little kayak and we said ‘Go get him!”

That kid would turn out to be 14-year-old Jak Klein.

“He paddled to him and was able to grab his foot to start pulling him and his friend Cole that was with us paddled him back to land and came running to us, flagging me and Christina down and asking if we knew CPR,” said Jak’s mom Elizabeth Klein.

Jak’s mom Elizabeth and Cole’s mom Christina were able to help resuscitate Jerry.

“He was probably under for three minutes maybe. His lips were turning blue and we might have lost him if had been any longer,” said Deb Burns.

But as things calmed down, Deb says they lost sight of “the kid in the yellow kayak” and those who helped her husband.

That led Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Session to turn to social media for help.

“I thought ‘Okay I’m just going to put this on Facebook, get the details out there hopefully. I’ll put this on my personal page as well as my mayor page and hopefully somebody will know something,” said Tybee Mayor Shirley Sessions.

Luckily, someone did. Elizabeth found Mayor Sessions’ plea through a family friend.

Mayor Sessions told the Burns’ they found “the kid in the yellow kayak”. They hope to meet the people who helped save Jerry’s life.

“Thank you so much... to everyone...everyone who helped,” said Jerry Burns.

Mayor Sessions says the city is working to put something together to honor Jak and Cole for their heroic efforts.

Jerry is back home in North Carolina recovering but he and Deb are looking forward to hopefully meeting “the kid in the yellow kayak” soon.

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