Kiteboarders 'storm into water' to rescue swimmers

Published: May. 29, 2012 at 1:16 AM EDT|Updated: May. 30, 2012 at 4:33 AM EDT
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James Hodge rescues a distressed swimmer. (Source: Kathy Hare)
James Hodge rescues a distressed swimmer. (Source: Kathy Hare)
Hodge being alerted more swimmers are in need of help in the water (Source: Kathy Hare)
Hodge being alerted more swimmers are in need of help in the water (Source: Kathy Hare)

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - When the wind is howling and the waves are breaking, kiteboarders storm station 28 1/2 on Sullivan's Island. On Memorial Day, the conditions were perfect but instead of catching air a group of local kiteboarders were saving lives.

"It was nuts," said Erik Spencer, owner of Windymoose kiteboarding supplies. "It was like zero to sixty in no time."

Spencer and another local kiteboarder Chris Bible watched from the beach as their friend James Hodge was gliding through the water.

"Hodge was kiting by and it looked like a woman grabbed him," said Spencer, who became alarmed. "It immediately looked like it was trouble."

20 yards out there was trouble. Spencer says a woman could barely keep her head above water and was floundering trying to swim back to shore.

In the water, Hodge had to turn his kite around to get back to the swimmer.

"She looked like she was reaching for me asking for a little help," said Hodge. "Once I got to her she grabbed a hold of me and I pulled her in and she alerted me to two other people were out a little bit further."

When Hodge located the two other swimmers in the same condition further out, he called to Spencer and Bible who snapped into action.

"I have goose bumps as I tell you, you could see a gentleman's head motionless in the water," said Bible, who said he grabbed an unattended paddle board on the beach and jumped into the water.

With Spencer at his side, Bible made his way to Hodge and the older man in need of help.

"We got the guy on the paddle board and as soon as he was on it he was like 'Oh my God'" said Spencer. "He was saved."

The kiteboarders say what felt like an eternity, took only minutes and they got all three swimmers back safely on shore.

"It's kind of an emotional feeling actually," said Hodge, owner of Sesh Kiteboarding. "No one was lost, everyone is happy. Got a bunch of good friends around. All in all a good day."

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