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Denning with Lee Patterson in the 1980s

Not your average Spring Break

By Michael Butler

Spring Break - a week to take a break, a week for rest and relaxation, a week to save a life.

The beach is a popular destination for spring breakers with sun, sand and surf.

Jade Snell, a senior at Tallassee High School, was enjoying her time in Gulf Shores with friends Izabella Kennamore and Natalie Pierce. It seemed to be a normal day, but all that changed in a heartbeat.

"We had been out there all day. We were swimming," she said. "There was this little boy. He was like eight. He had been in and out of the water jumping in the waves. His grandmother was out there holding his little sister. It looked like he had gone too far. It was like a split second. He looked at us and you could see it in his face, like terror.

"He started screaming, 'Help!' I was like, 'Oh my goodness!' So, I said, 'Here hold my sunglasses. I'm going to go get him.' His grandmother was screaming his name and holding the little girl. (She) fell down trying to get to him. He had gone underwater several times. When I got to him he came up and was like, 'I'm fine,' trying to be cool. Another wave came up and took us both under. It was pulling him back and pulling me back. I put him in front of me and pushed him forward. Izabella was right there waiting to get me. We somehow got out. His grandmother was thanking us so much."

The boy's mother also showed her gratitude for the heroic act.

"She was telling us that she should've been more careful, but she was just not paying attention. Izabella said that when it sucked him in it looked like a horror movie."

Snell said she was initially in water that was thigh deep on her but eventually ended up being chest deep at the time of the rescue. The incident lasted only about a minute and a half, but turned out to be a lifesaving span.

"It's a long story but happened real quick."

Kennamore said the incident was "real scary."

"I didn't know if it was going to take Jade," she said. "I was out there with her and it started to pull me under too."

Snell has never practiced lifeguarding as a profession but might want to consider the trade.

"All my friends are certified lifeguards," she noted.

As for the attention, that's not something Snell is interested in.

"I'd rather do it and no one know instead of making a big deal out of it. It's good for everyone to hear. You realize to count your blessings and to watch out. You never know how things might go."

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