Former NFL Star Describes Saving Niece And Son From Drowning After Weeks In ICU

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Peyton Hillis, a former NFL running back, recounted how he saved both his son and niece during a family beach day on Jan. 4, in Pensacola.

ABC News reported that Hillis, in an exclusive interview with co-anchor Michael Strahan of “Good Morning America”, said it was a “100% miracle” there were no deaths.

Hillis and his niece went to the beach to play on a “windy”, but “beautiful”, morning, despite the “bad storm” that had occurred the night before. Hillis saw no lifeguard or surf warning flags on the beach. Hillis’s mother, who was with her family at the beach, saw Hillis’ niece and his son struggling against the ripcurrent that was sweeping them from the shore.

Hillis described the moment he had swim past his son in order to save his niece who was far away as “the scariest point” of the interview. Hillis, after pushing his niece on a boogieboard provided by a passerby, battled the waves while he carried son who was “pretty limp” and his eyes were “rolling back in the rear of his head”.

Hillis collapsed and his kidneys and lungs began to fail. According to the report, he was airlifted by emergency services to the hospital, where he spent two weeks with his family in intensive care. He regained awareness after 10 days. He is now recovering and says that the incident taught him to prioritize his family. He also urges people to “respect water.”

According to the report, local authorities were on patrol nearby when the incident occurred. ABC reported that they added the surf warning flag located a mile from the incident. Beachgoers are advised to use “best judgement” when determining the conditions.