Between the sound of the surf at La Jolla Cove Friday evening, Jacob Petty and a friend heard cries of despair.
“We heard someone yelling for help,” Petty told NBC7. “It didn’t sound that frantic or distressed."
The cries were coming from beneath their perch on lookout point Friday night. In the distance, Petty said he saw two young people in the water, in dire need of help.
“The young female was on her back and appeared to be unconscious and the young male was waving his arms, treading water and struggling,” Petty said.
The 23-year-old La Jolla man says his friend called 911 while he jumped into the ocean, swimming out about 15-feet to save the 16-year-old girl. The swimmer pulled one of the victims to the rocky reef, where lifeguards took over the rescue.
“I'm not the best swimmer,” Petty said. “But I knew I could hold on a minute at least. If I could get back on the shore, the lifeguards would know where both of us were and keep her from going into the caves. We pulled her on the rocks, she wasn’t breathing. We could barely feel a pulse and she was blue in face.”
The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials airlifted the teen to the hospital and the man, who lifeguards said on Friday had more serious injuries, were taken by ambulance to the hospital, where they performed CPR.
Lifeguards said the girl was alert and talking when she was pulled out. They say the man, in his 20s, was found underwater near the entrance to Sunny Jim's Cave.
Officials say both nearly drowned.
Petty, a culinary student, was just thankful he was able to help.
“I don’t know if I'm a natural helper,” Petty said. “I think it’s something instinctual when you see someone who needs help. I think most people want to help people and want to do what they can to help each other.”
It is unclear how the two got into the water in the first place, but Petty said the girl’s cell phone was in her pocket.