DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WESH/CNN) – When a 19-year-old waitress in Florida dove off a pier to save a child stuck in a rip current, she, unfortunately, hit a sandbar and had to be rescued herself. Luckily, other bystanders were also able to save the boy.
Hanna Pignato, 19, is recovering in the hospital after suffering broken bones in her foot and back Saturday night from a dive off a Daytona Beach, Florida, pier.
While working on the rooftop deck at Joe’s Crab Shack, the waitress saw an 8-year-old boy struggling in a rip current. She immediately ran downstairs, gave a customer her apron, phone and personal belongings and jumped in after the boy.
It was at least a 20-foot drop.
Unfortunately, the waitress hit a sandbar and broke bones in her foot and back.
“Right when I jumped, I was like, ‘I’m done.’ Right when I hit the bottom floor, it was maybe 2 feet, 3 feet,” Pignato said.
Pignato had to be rescued herself, but she says she had to act, as she watched the boy being pulled farther and farther out. She says he was barely able to keep his head above water, and his mother was shouting for help.
“She was screaming bloody mary, just screaming. I could just hear the fear in her eyes, and I was scared; everybody was scared. I’m thinking in my head, ‘That kid is going to die because no one is in the water,’” Pignato said.
In those panicked moments, Pignato says the rough surf may have led her to misjudge the depth, and her only regret is she didn’t go deeper.
“I’m a good swimmer, so I’m like, ‘I can get to this kid.’ But I should have walked down the pier a little bit more and done it so much better,” she said.
But ultimately, the 19-year-old says there was really no time to think about her actions.
“I love when families are with families because I know what it’s like not to have my family, and I didn’t want her to go home without hers,” Pignato said.
Thankfully, the 8-year-old was saved by bystanders and beach safety officers. He swallowed a lot of water, so he was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Pignato says she’s “happy,” “thankful” and “grateful” that both she and the drowning child are still alive.
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