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US Navy sailors rescue two drowning teens off FL coast at volleyball championship

All-Navy Volleyball players Chief Petty Officer Aniahau Desha from Hilo, Hawaii, Hospitalman Gaston Yescas from Tucson, Ariz., Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Lucius from Pearl City, Hawaii, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Essick from Harrisburg, Pa. risked themselves to save the lives of two teenage girls at Naval Station Mayport beach. (Photo by Steven Dinote - Armed Forces Sports/Released)
May 16, 2018

Earlis this month, as four U.S. Navy sailors and their families were at a Florida beach for the 2018 Armed Forces Volleyball Championship, they heard calls for help, prompting them to discover and then rescue two female teenagers who were drowning off the coast.

Chief Petty Officer Aniahau Desha, Seaman Gaston Yescas, Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Lucius and Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Essick rushed into the water at Naval Station Mayport Beach and swam about 75 yards to save the drowning girls, one of whom was unresponsive, ABC News reported.

“When we got on shore, as soon as I picked her up, I noticed that she wasn’t breathing. It was obvious that she wasn’t breathing. I checked for her pulse – there was no pulse. So we immediately started chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth,” Desha said.

Desha and Yesca conducted CPR on the girl until paramedics arrived.

The unresponsive female was taken to the hospital and later released, according to Thomas Lyszkowski, First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services assistant fire chief.

“Because of the actions of these sailors, she’s alive,” Lyszkowski said.

“I was on the beach with my wife, and everyone showed up there, Josh, Sheldon and Gaston. We’d just sat down, and some ladies came up the beach were yelling for help, seeing that the girls were out in the waves, needing help. They were in trouble, so we just ran into the water and got them,” Desha said, according to U.S. Armed Forces Sports.

“Since I’m a corpsman up-to-date with the CPR certifications and all, and I was also a lifeguard for eight years, this was honestly like a normal drill, I would say. I’ve been in a lot of incidents like this,” Yescas said.

The sailors’ volleyball coach Gilburto Bermudez credited their “quick thinking, bravery, and composure under extreme pressure.”

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that this girl’s going to see another day because of what we did,” Desha said. “For the parents, especially, and as a parent myself, I couldn’t imagine hearing the news that something happened to my daughter. And if someone was there to help, I’d like them to do the same for me if it was my child. So, I’m pretty honored.”

The teen’s mother sent a Facebook message to the sailors to inform them that her daughter was doing well and that she had been released from the hospital. She also said her daughter would be reaching out to the sailors, Yescas told U.S. Armed Forces Sports.