Boy swept off North Carolina coast on unicorn float

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Posted at 12:59 PM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 16:04:16-04

(KGTV) - An 8-year-old boy who floated out to sea on a giant unicorn raft is safe thanks to a volunteer water rescue team.

The Ohio boy, who was vacationing on North Carolina’s Oak Island with his family, was swept away by a gust of wind. He was blown nearly half a mile into the Atlantic Ocean.

“From witness comments heard on the beach, and some witness comments we’ve read on social media, it happened suddenly when the wind pushed the raft from shallow water to deeper water in seconds. Once it was out past the waves, the big float acted like a sail and the unicorn float kept going away from the beach,” Oak Island Water Rescue reported.

At least one person attempted to swim out to the boy but failed, said OIWR. When rescue teams reached the scene, they launched their boat into the surf and recovered the boy.

The boy was safely reunited with his mother, OIWR said.

"He was a brave one," rescuer Tony Young told 10News.

WWAY-TV reports other floats blew out to sea several times last year, but this was the first time a child was still on board.

“A strong wind gust can send a raft on the move. In fact, on days where we have a strong wind blowing toward the ocean, it is not uncommon for us to get multiple 911 dispatches for rafts blown into deeper water,” reported OIWR.

OIWR recommends having children wear life jackets when they ride on rafts. Rescuers praised the Ohio boy's courage.

“The young man did an amazing job of staying calm and remaining on the float. When Boat 4491 reached him, he told the crew not to pop the unicorn float or they would get in trouble.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.