Santa Fe Christian students Jack McGuinness and Josiah Simpson say most of their freshman class was at Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas Thursday afternoon celebrating the last day of school.
That celebration quickly turned to chaos around 2:10 p.m. when, fire officials say, two males were found unconscious in the waters.
McGuinness and Simpson, both 15 years old, were among those to first spot the lifeless victims and pull them to shore.
“I thought, ‘Hey, that's like a weird piece of seaweed’ and we went over to it, and it turned out to be a body,” McGuinness told NBC 7. “I picked him up and got him above water and he had no muscle movement.”
McGuinness says about seven Santa Fe Christian students were in the water at that time, and one of them swam to get a lifeguard.
As McGuinness and a few other students pulled the young victim to the beach, he says Josiah Simpson came over to tell them about the strong rip current near them.
Fire officials confirmed lifeguards initiated a “mass rescue” due to the severity of the rip current and the number of people in the water.
Simpson says that's when he heard more screams.
“They started screaming ‘There's another one, another body!” Simpson said.
Both he and McGuinness are junior lifeguards. Simpson says he never though their skills would be put to the test like this.
“So I flipped him over and secured an airway and checked his pulse and there wasn't any,” he recalled.
“There's still a pit in my stomach," he said when he spoke to NBC 7 Thursday night. "I don’t know how to feel about it.”
With McGuinness, the other students and lifeguards occupied with the first victim, Simpson said he had to drag the second victim to shallower waters on his own. A lifeguard met them when they closer to shore.
Not sure whether their actions saved the victims’ lives, the boys gathered with their classmates and parents in the garage of the lifeguard office to hold a prayer circle.
As of Thursday evening, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reported they still have not been able to identify the victims – only that they’re Hispanic males.
One is a juvenile and the other male’s age is unknown.
Officials confirm the victims are not Santa Fe Christian students. At last check, officials also told NBC 7 the victims were alive.
Lifeguards also want to warn the public of a southern swell they expect to bring in more sporadic rip currents over the next four to five days along our coastline.