At a Florida beach, a 16-year-old Atlanta boy noticed some younger kids in trouble and reacted quickly. Both he and a family friend who jumped into the sea to help the teenager in the rescue perished while saving them.
As Bryce Brooks and a group of friends were traveling with his family to Pensacola, they “witnessed four other younger kids who they did not know being pulled by the current,” according to his father Shivy Brooks, who spoke at a news conference.
They were on spring break when the incident occurred.
While the rest of the group ran to find adults, Bryce and two others dove into the water right away.
“Our son Bryce, while being pulled by currents himself literally called for help, but not for himself, he was calling for help for the little kids he was looking out for,” Bryce’s father said.
Sadly, Bryce “was pulled under” as he was in the water, his father continued.
Shivy said that Charles Johnson II, a close family friend whom the Johnson family simply referred to as “Uncle Chuck,” was pulled under as well as he went in after Bryce.
“Our family is devastated,” he said. “Our community is devastated.”
According to authorities in Escambia County, four people were dragged over 100 yards by rip currents on that particular day, as reported by ABC affiliate WEAR-TV.
According to the site, the incident occurred in a location without lifeguards, and at that moment, yellow flags — which warn moderate currents — were flying.
The teen’s parents said they are “so proud” of him despite the fact nothing can ease their grief.
“Bryce is a hero. He literally saved the lives of four kids at the expense of his own,” his father said.
“We’re never gonna get to see Bryce grow up to be the full man he was going to be. But we know that he stepped into his manhood to save these children and that makes me proud,” added his mother, Crystal Brooks. “It doesn’t take away an ounce of pain, but it makes me proud of our son and what he sacrificed. And I’ll forever hold that.”
Bryce’s parents described him as a “creative” child who loved music and fashion. He was very intelligent, and a member of his school’s fashion club.
The teen’s father described Johnson, a husband and father of three, in his memory as “a person that looks after everyone.”
“That he would give up his life in an attempt to save Bryce’s life; it’s everything I expect and I know about that man,” Shivy said.
The “Get Your Teach On” organization set up a campaign for the family, and it has raised over $107,000.
“Bryce’s actions helped to save several lives. We can not even begin to understand the unimaginable impact this has had on their family, friends, and loved ones but know the power of this community,” organizers wrote.
“Our heart breaks for him and continues to break for their entire family,” they wrote.