3 taken to hospital after rescue crews respond to swimmers in distress in Virginia Key

VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (WSVN) - Three people have been taken to the hospital after rescue crews responded to Virginia Key Beach after they received a call that several swimmers were in distress.

City of Miami Police and Fire Rescue crews responded to the scene at Historical Virginia Key Beach at around 4:50 p.m., Monday.

According to fire officials, a 25-year-old mother and her 9-year-old son were at a sandbar during some rough surf.

Katherine Hernandez, a 12-year-old witness, said it was a normal day at the beach before she realized that something was wrong.

“Then after we went, [we] saw that the kid was floating past the — you know the wire things that you can’t pass? — he passed over there,” she said. “It was like, it was like really sad, but I was scared. I’m nervous. I just heard people screaming.”

Other witnesses said they heard screams coming from the water.

“When we saw the mother drowning, was [when we knew] that we had to act fast,” witness Meredith Diaz said.

A 17-year-old then spotted the two who were struggling in the water and attempted to help the mother and son, fire officials said.

The good Samaritan’s cousin said he rescued the boy first by pushing him towards the shore, and then went back to save the mother.

Sometime after going back to save the mother, fire officials said he got into trouble himself, and that’s when others went into the water to save the 17-year-old.

Speaking in Spanish, one good Samaritan said he described feeling scared, especially when he saw the young man floating in the water. He added that several people held hands and formed a line to try and get to the 17-year-old, but he was too far away, so he and others jumped into the water and pulled him out.

Paramedics transported the 17-year-old to Jackson Memorial Hospital in very critical condition.

Dania Vasquez, the 17-year-old’s friend, said in Spanish that she is proud of him for what he did at the beach and added that he is the kind of person willing to risk his life to help others.

Fire officials said the mother and son were taken to the hospital as a precaution and were later discharged from the hospital. The mother said in Spanish she is thankful for the 17-year-old who risked his life to save her and her son.

“He’s a good man,” the 9-year-old said. “He helped me. If he didn’t help me, my mom would have died.”

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was seen entering the hospital to visit the 17-year-old and his family. The teen is a senior at Booker T. Washington High School.

“I’m both inspired and heartbroken by what I learned, and I could not stay home or continue to enjoy my evening without coming here and embracing and praying alongside these two families,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho added that crisis counselors will be at the school to help students and staff, Tuesday.

7Skyforce HD hovered over the scene where crews could be seen loading up a victim into the back of an ambulance.

7News cameras captured investigators speaking to several witnesses on the scene.

Cameras also captured a red flag that was posted at the beach’s entrance. Officials said if that flag is posted, it means the water is very choppy and could be dangerous to enter the water.

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