5 people rescued from bay near Candlestick Point

August 19, 2012 1:15:02 PM PDT
An extraordinary act of bravery helps save the lives of two boys. They were stuck in a sinking rowboat that was drifting farther and farther out on San Francisco Bay. It happened Saturday afternoon off the Candlestick Point recreation area near the stadium.

"I'm lucky to be here right now and not the bottom of the ocean," Jack Olinger said.

Olinger, 12, and his buddy Christian Pryfogle, 12, were sitting in an 8-foot rowboat that was adrift and taking on water on San Francisco Bay.

"Me and Jack were balling and balling and crying and weeping and we're like we're never getting back," Pryfogle said.

They might not have gotten back if not for Nick Tumilowicz who stripped down to his underwear, jumped into the 55 degree water and swam nearly a mile. With the rowboat sinking, he grabbed the boys by their life jackets, told them to lay on their backs and kick while he hauled them to the closest pier.

"It was a pretty gnarly situation. They were freaking out and for that 200-meter swim, I was a little freaked out, too, because there was no boat and I was holding their two jackets with one hand and doing the sidestroke up to the pier, but we made it happen," Tumilowicz said. That's when they were rescued by the U.S Coast Guard.

The afternoon started pleasantly enough. They were all at the Candlestick Point recreation area near the stadium for a 50th birthday party. The boys got in the boat to get a football that landed in the water, but it was windy and an umbrella on the boat acted like a sail.

"We got the football and we realized, oh no, we're probably not going to get it back so we tried to paddle to the shore and they're yelling at us," Olinger said.

Two other unidentified men also stripped down and jumped in the water and had to be rescued. However, it was Tumilowicz, a lifeguard for 15 years, who was able to reach the boys.

"That was just the thing to do, yeah, not sure I'd call myself a hero," Tumilowicz said.

"He's a hero. He saved me and my friend's life and we wouldn't have been able to get back without him," Pryfogle said.

The San Francisco Fire Department also took part in the rescue. There was some mild hypothermia, but everyone is fine. The two friends are set to start 7th grade at San Francisco's Gateway Middle School on Monday.

They say they'll be ready when the teacher asks them what they did this summer.


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