Teenagers Tyler Smith and Heather Brown, who attend Christ’s Church Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, were swimming at Vilano Beach when they got pulled out to sea by a riptide. The two grew increasingly weaker, wondering if they would make it back to shore, when they prayed to God and a boat named the “Amen” came to their rescue.
“For [God] to send someone for us to keep living and a boat named ‘Amen,’ there’s no way that it wasn’t Him,” Smith told Fox News.
A Fun Day Turns Perilous
Smith and Brown, who will graduate May 19th, are 17 years old and have been friends since the fourth grade.
Action News Jax reports that they had cut school for a senior skip day on April 18th and were swimming on the Florida coast when they realized they were unable to make it back to shore. At one point, they tried to swim to a red buoy so they could hold onto it and wait to be rescued, but the current kept pushing them off course. “We lost the buoy all together and that was the moment we needed something miraculous,” Brown told ABC News.
They were stranded two miles out from the shoreline for two hours. Smith eventually started cramping and then he started praying. He said, “I cried out, ‘if you really do have a plan for us, like, come on. Just bring something.’”
Surviving at sea: Two teens stranded off shore in St. Johns county are saved by a man sailing to New Jersey. Hear their prayers, and you will not believe the name of the boat that saved them. @ActionNewsJax at 6:00 pic.twitter.com/0U209wl2Si
— Bridgette Matter (@bridgetteANjax) April 30, 2019
That’s when they caught sight of a boat. “I started swimming towards it,” said Brown. “I was like, ‘I’m going to get this boat. Just stay here. I’m going to get this boat. We are going to live.’”
The ‘Amen’ to the Rescue
The crew of the boat that rescued them was en route to New Jersey. Captain Eric Wagner says they had decided to go out despite the sea’s rough conditions. He told ABC that it was a day when only fishing boats, which don’t go up and down the coast, go out, so if the “Amen” hadn’t been there, it’s unlikely any other vessels would have come across the teens. About two miles out from shore, the crew heard “a desperate scream.” Looking back, about 200 yards behind them, they saw an arm amid the swell of the waves. They did a U-turn and headed to where the teens were, tossing them life jackets and a line. Brown says after they saw the boat, Smith told her, “‘Heather, just keep screaming, just keep screaming’…I was like, ‘This is it, this is it, we’re getting out of here!'”
Brown and Smith were too weak to climb aboard, so the crew had to push and pull them onto the vessel. This was difficult because the engines were off, and the waves were tossing all of them while unsecured items slid back and forth on the boat. Wagner said, “Both were shivering and pale, his lips were white. She was lucid, he seemed to be struggling to answer our questions but coherent.”
Once the teens were safely on board, the coast guard had been contacted, and things settled down, Wagner told them the name of the boat. He said, “That’s when they started to cry.”
“There’s no other reason or explanation in the world that that wasn’t God,” Smith told Action News Jax. Wagner agrees. He told ABC, “I don’t want to call it dumb luck, it wasn’t, it was the hand of God.”