PALMETTO, Fla. - A shelling trip to Egmont Key nearly cost a Bradenton couple their lives.
One got caught in a rip current, and the other jumped in to help and then both were in trouble.
Now the search is on for their heroes.
Paula and Tom Ney made it out to Egmont Key for an afternoon of shelling on Monday, but an hour earlier the two had struggled to stay alive.
“I started swimming my hands legs kicking and I look up (and I had) not gone anywhere ... I knew we were in trouble," Tom said.
The couple was caught in a rip current. Paula had jumped in the water first while Tom anchored their boat.
“When I got in I was in 2 feet of water hitting bottom … then I was up and out,” she says.
“Paula was out like 60 feet,” recalls Tom.
Paula says, “Every swim stroke I knew, back stroke, side stroke, breast stroke -- nothing getting me anywhere.”
Tom jumped in to help. The couple remained calm but were swimming back into the current. Lifeguards say that’s a mistake.
Joseph Westerman, chief of Marine Rescue for Manatee County, says if you're caught in a current, you should swim parallel to shore to break the grip of the rip.
“Don’t try to fight that path back against the current you won’t make it it’s so strong," he says. "Ride it out, let it bring you off to the side (then) swim back this direction.”
The Neys were too tired to swim anymore.
That’s when a father and son fishing off their boat nearby came to the rescue.
They "gave us each one of these throwable cushions,” Tom says.
The father and son gave them a lift back to their boat.
Tom says it took them a day to realize how lucky they are.
“The first thing I did when I woke up is I hugged her … because it was worse than I realized,” he says.
The Neys know only their rescuers first names: Mark and his son Daniel.
Now the search is on to find this father and son, because the Neys wants to properly thank them.
“I’m a retired chef," Tom says. "Paula and I like to invite them to dinner at our house.”
“They really did save our lives after all,” adds Paula.
“We really appreciate them. Good Samaritans definitely,” Tom says.