British students roadtripping around US save children from drowning

‘He appeared like just a dot and we didn’t know if we could reach him’: Road-tripping British students save five drowning children who were pulled out to sea by a strong current while on a summer camp beach visit

  • Hamish Rea, Jack Emlyn-Jones and Joseph and Nat Weisberg hailed as heroes
  • The students – all from London – noticed five children far out to sea in Seattle, WA
  • They then swam out to save them before crew of a boat nearby helped with CPR

Four roadtripping British students have been hailed as heroes after saving five children from drowning in Puget Sound. 

Hamish Rea, 22, Jack Emlyn-Jones, 22, and brothers Joseph and Nathaniel Weisberg, 20 and 22, jumped into action while on holiday in the US.

The London students, who are on a West Coast road trip, were eating lunch at a beach in Seattle, Washington, when four boys and a girl between the ages of 10 and 11 were sucked out to sea.

The four friends battled strong currents to swim around 150 yards and reach the stranded group, who were on an excursion with the East African Community Services.

 Hamish Rea, 22, Jack Emlyn-Jones, 22, and brothers Joseph and Nathaniel Weisberg, 20 and 22, jumped into action while on holiday in the US

One of the boys is still fighting for his life at Seattle Children’s Hospital after the incident at Discovery Park Beach (pictured) around 3.30pm on Friday

Two unconscious boys were rushed to hospital, one in a critical condition and the other in a serious condition

Rescuers said the children were on the beach with around 100 others as part of an excursion organized by East African Community Services

Jack, a politics and history student at Durham University, pulled two kids to safety while Hamish, an Arabic student at St. Andrews and Nat, a history student at Cambridge, saved two others.

The friends – who are strong swimmers and played on their school’s water polo team – then managed to alert a passing boat, whose crew plucked the fifth child from the water and began CPR.

Two unconscious boys were rushed to hospital, one in a critical condition and the other in a serious condition.

The other three were admitted before being released the same day.

One of the boys is still fighting for his life at Seattle Children’s Hospital after the incident at Discovery Park Beach around 3.30pm on Friday.


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Jack, from Camden in London, said: ‘Before we even had a chance to think about it we were running into the water. The adrenaline starts and you just know what needs to be done.

‘It was a natural reaction on our part. When you see people in trouble you have an instinct to help.’

Rescuers said the children were on the beach with around 100 others as part of an excursion organized by East African Community Services.     

Around a dozen camp counselors from the charity, which supports young people and families in Seattle, are said to have been supervising them.

Hamish said his group had only arrived in Seattle two hours earlier, adding: ‘We arrived in Seattle two hours ago, went for a burger, came to the beach.’

He told KIRO7: ‘The kids were shouting, “Oh, they’re drowning, they’re drowning,” and we thought they were joking because none of the adults were doing anything.’    

 The students arrived in the US on July 2 and set off from California on a road trip. They have traveled through Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington

Joseph, a sculpture student at Glasgow School of Art, said: ‘We couldn’t hear the children but I knew that they shouldn’t have been out as far as they were for their size.

‘The child that was the farthest out looked like just a dot in the water to us.

‘I just had a gut instinct that they were too far out to just be swimming.

‘I’m not as good of a swimmer as Jack, Hamish and Nat, but we immediately asked the counselors to call 911. Nobody had done that yet.

‘We dived into the water and it was all a blur. Jack managed to reach two kids and pull them in and Hamish and Nat swam out to get the other two.

‘We started waving down a boat but it didn’t see us. Hamish was screaming at the boat and everyone on the shore started waving.

‘The guys on the boat noticed the kid in the water. They immediately rushed to him and pulled him into the boat. They started doing CPR.

‘By the time they brought him towards the shore, the Fire Department had arrived and they jumped into the water to transfer him from the boat to an ambulance.

‘It was evident that there was some kind of current sucking these kids out quite quickly.

‘It was stressful and strange because it happened so quickly. It was scary. We’re just happy that the kids are almost all okay.’

Seattle Fire Department chief Harold Scoggins praised on the London quartet as well as the boat crew. He said they saved the children’s lives.

Scoggins said: ‘I commend them for their heroic actions prior to our arrival on scene.

‘If it weren’t for their quick life-saving actions, those children may not be alive today.

The London students, who are on a West Coast road trip, were eating lunch at a beach in Seattle, Washington, when four boys and a girl aged 10 and 11 were sucked out to sea

Jack (right), a politics and history student at Durham University, pulled two kids to safety while Hamish (left), an Arabic student at St. Andrews and Nat (second left), a history student at Cambridge, saved two others

‘Our residents are fortunate to have people like them in the community, who step up when others are in need.’

In a statement posted online, East African Community Services said: ‘Thank you to the British tourists, the person on the boat, and our staff and family members who all pulled students out of the water.

‘As a community we will heal and move forward to strengthen our water safety practices to better safeguard against us lethal accidents in the future.’

The students arrived in the US on July 2 and set off from California on a road trip. They have traveled through Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.

Hamish and Jack plan to return home on July 20 while brothers Nathaniel and Joseph will remain in the US until mid-August. 

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