SEASIDE HEIGHTS – A Central Regional High School student is receiving accolades after saving two swimmers who were caught in a rip current on June 9.
Nikolas DeVoe, a 14-year-old Seaside Heights resident, was just finishing up his first year at Central Regional High School. He was surfing with his friend, Tom Picurro, a 15-year-old from East Rutherford who summers here.
“I saw a person run up to a police officer and point. There were three people sucked out in a rip current,” he said. “To a regular person, it looked like they were swimming.” However, they were shouting for help.
He dropped his board and swam to the closest person, feeling that the board would have slowed him down. Tom rode his board out to the farther two. Nikolas grabbed the man’s arm, got him over so he was on his back, and brought him toward shore, kicking and paddling with his free arm.
The man was panicking the entire way. He was still shouting for help. Nikolas said he had to keep reassuring him, “I’ve got you. You’re OK.” When they got to shallow waters, he could barely stand. The officer helped Nikolas bring him to land. The officer said later that he had swallowed so much water that he was literally seconds away from dying.
“I was more scared of him pulling me under” than the rip current, he said. “I didn’t have time to be scared.”
Tom, meanwhile, had brought his rescue back to shore on his surfboard. Nikolas dove back in and pulled in the third person.
Later, Nikolas tried to re-enact the rescue with his father in the pool, and he couldn’t do the same thing. He didn’t realize it at the time, but there must have been adrenaline pumping through his system helping him out.
As a freshman at Central Regional High School, he joined the Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps), a military-like service academy within the school. He also takes part in the junior lifeguard camp held by the Seaside Heights Beach Patrol. So, it’s likely that this kind of training kicked in.
“I was proud,” his mother Tricia said, but scared. She worried about how he swam out without a flotation device.
Nikolas is humble about what he did, even though he got honored by Seaside Heights and other places are looking to give him praise at future public meetings. A connection at the police station is trying to get him back together with his rescues so he can meet them properly.
He didn’t even tell his mother about it right away. She said she came to the beach to pick the boys up, and people came up and told her what happened. And where were Nikolas and Tom? They were back in the waves, surfing.