When Tyler Smith and Heather Brown decided to go for a swim in Florida in April, they weren’t prepared to spend the next few hours in the ocean. Somehow, they ended up nearly two miles from shore, desperate for help and unable to swim back against the current. The two teenagers, both students at Christ’s Church Academy in Jacksonville, thought they were going to drown out there. Treading water in rough seas, they started to pray for rescue. And according to them, God answered in a weirdly literal way.
That same day, Eric Wagner was taking his boat, Amen, from Delray to NJ. “The wind is 15-20kn and the seas are rough but we decided to go out anyway,” he wrote on Facebook. “An adventure.” Suddenly, though, over the sound of the wind and engines, Wagner and his friends thought they heard something. “We thought we heard a desperate scream,” he wrote. Two-hundred yards behind us, we saw an arm flail over the swells.”
The crew quickly began to swing the bow around and began to head back to where they saw the arm. “After what felt like forever,” Wagner continued, “we finally made our way while losing them in the swells every few seconds. We tossed them jackets then a line and pulled them back to the swim deck.”
By the time Tyler Smith and Heather Brown were finally taken aboard the Amen, they’d been in the water for nearly two hours. They were too weak to climb aboard themselves, both shivering and pale. “His lips were white,” Wagner said. “She was lucid, he seemed to be struggling to answer our questions but coherent.”
The crew radioed for the Coast Guard and covered the teens in blankets, then set a course to rendezvous with the rescue boat. “He told me that no matter what direction they swam, they kept going out,” Wagner said. “Exhausted and near the end, the boy told me he called out for God’s help. Then we showed up. I told them the name of the vessel, that’s when they started to cry.”
In a Facebook post, Christ’s Church Academy called the rescue miraculous. “The staff, students, and families of Christ’s Church Academy are incredibly grateful for God’s sovereign protection over Heather and Tyler,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Thank you to Mr. Eric Wagner, captain of the Amen vessel that rescued our students, for your swift action and compassion!”