"It was so quick, it only happened in a matter of a couple minutes.” Ian Black doesn’t remember everything that happened.
Ten days later, he returned to the La Jolla beach where he jumped in the ocean and was nearly killed by a rip current. "To me, the riptide looked like a calm area, a good place to go,” he told NBC 7.
In reality, it was a hidden river pulling him out to sea. He considers himself a good swimmer, but in a matter of seconds, he lost his ability to stay afloat.
"The last thing I remember is yelling for help and feeling panic in my voice and then gargling, trying to reach up for the top, only getting my hand out of the water thinking I'd give anything for a breath and that was it," he said.
What he didn't know was two lifeguards had already started their rescue from the moment he entered the water. The area Black was in is restricted to swimmers.
"It’s actually not a swimming area, it's an advanced surf spot,” Lifeguard Shayne McIntyre explained.
Fellow Lifeguard James Earnest watched from his post 400 yards away and radioed for help as he ran to the water where a pair of surfers struggled with Black's lifeless body. “He was unconscious, cyanotic, which is a bluish color, foam coming out of his mouth,” McIntyre said. Black didn’t have a heartbeat and he wasn’t breathing. The lifeguards performed CPR on Black on the beach
"If it was just me I'd be dead,” Black asserted.
After two days in a coma and six in the hospital, Black made a full recovery and has been thanking everyone who helped save him – the doctors, the surfers and the lifeguards.
"That was a huge relief just to see him, seemed completely happy, normal, I remember he had a glass of cold water and he's like, 'oh man, this water is so great,” Earnest laughed.
"When you can give someone back their life, to me it's the ultimate gift, and that’s the reward in and of itself, to see that man walking and walking back to his family. You can go to sleep tonight easy,” McIntyre added.
Black flew back to Texas on Wednesday.