The video taken of Sam, an eighth-grader at Independence Middle School, went viral. Taken by a drone, the video shows Ruskin swimming out to the struggling man, placing him stomach-down on his surf board and pushing him to the south side of the inlet.
“He could have drowned,” said Ruskin, who wants to be a professional surfer. “He could have been pulled into the current. He could have been pushed against the rocks.”
The video shows the boat powering into the inlet. A wave rolls over the stern, tumbling the bow into the surf. A man in an orange shirt, without a life preserver, climbs out. He struggles to swim to the south side of the inlet.
Sam was surfing with his cousin Reese about 4:30 p.m. on the south side of the inlet when they saw the 24-boat boat coming in, against the outgoing tide. People on the jetty began pointing to the water. Sam saw floating white boxes, then the man struggling.
“It was choppy. The waves were 3-4 feet,” Sam said.
The tennager paddled over to help the man, who Sam estimated to be in his 30s or 40s. He gave up his white, black and green surfboard to the floundering swimmer. They paddled to the south side of the inlet. The man never lost consciousness.
“He said thanks when we got to the beach. He was in shock. He was calm,” Sam said.
Fire-rescue officials arrived about 5:30 p.m., according to Capt. Albert Borroto of Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. The boater was not injured. His name was not released. The boat sank and was not recovered.
Ryan Ruskin picked up his son Friday night at Reese’s house. Ryan had not heard anything about the rescue.
“Sam told me he rescued a guy in the inlet. He didn’t make a big deal out of it,” said Ryan Ruskin, an attorney who also likes to surf.
Then first thing Sunday morning, a friend of Ryan’s told him about a video he posted on Facebook of a boater scuttling in the Jupiter Inlet. Ryan called up the video.
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“That’s my son!” Ryan said.
Since then, Sam has been interviewed by several media outlets, including CBS’ “Inside Edition” and London’s Daily Mail. The Ruskins have not heard from the rescued boater.
“I’m proud of Sam. He’s a strong swimmer. We’re in the ocean all the time. He did the right thing,” Ryan said.
The Jupiter Inlet is dangerous for swimmers and boaters. Recent incidents include:
* Andrew “Red” Harris, 24, drowned while snorkeling in the Jupiter Inlet in June 2014.
* Edwin Castañon, 15, drowned while swimming at Dubois Park in 2015.
* Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen left the Jupiter Inlet in a 19-foot boat in July 2015. The two 14-year-old boys never returned.