A high school student died on spring break while saving the lives of children caught in rip currents. Bryce Brooks, 16, was vacationing off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, when he saw a group of children who appeared to be drowning.
He jumped in the water to rescue four younger children whom he didn’t know, reported The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The children made it to shore, but no one saw Bryce come back, his family said. Charles Johnson, a parent and friend of the Brooks family, jumped in to find him. After adults at the beach retrieved both Bryce and Johnson from the water, they tried to give them CPR. They were both brought to the hospital but didn’t survive. Bryce died of cardiac arrest, according to his family.
REST IN PEACE to 16-year-old Bryce Brooks of Atlanta who died after heroically jumping into the ocean in Florida trying to rescue four younger children that he didn’t know from drowning. The children survived.
Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/In9FAL85kc
— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) April 12, 2023
“Our family is devastated. Our community is devastated,” Shivy Brooks, Bryce’s father, told WSB-TV. “Being selfless, our son Bryce, while being pulled by the currents himself, literally called for help, not for himself, but he was calling for help for the little kids that he was looking out for.”
“Bryce is a hero. He literally saved the lives of four kids at the expense of his own,” he added.
Bryce was a student at Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, WSB-TV reported. He played the piano, produced his beats, was a fashion club member at his school, and had just become an honor roll student.
“Bryce had his hands in a little bit of everything,” Crystal Brooks, his mother, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He was so helpful, so smart and bright and headstrong, but he knew what he wanted.”
Crystal Brooks said she is proud of her son, although it doesn’t take away the pain felt by her loss.
“We’re never going to get to see Bryce grow up and be the full man that he was going to be,” she told WSB-TV. “But we know that he stepped into his manhood to save these children. That makes me proud. It doesn’t take an ounce of pain, but it makes me proud of our son.”
The Brooks family wants something positive to come out of the sacrifice made by Bryce and Johnson. They want to raise money so that Atlanta children get free swimming lessons, reported The Atlanta Journal Constitution. They also want to establish a scholarship for APS high schoolers to become certified lifeguards.
Friends of the Brooks family have set up a GoFundMe to support them.