OCEAN CITY — City Council honored an off-duty lifeguard Thursday
for rescuing a family of four that got caught in a rip current over
Columbus Day weekend while swimming on an unguarded beach.
Matthew Betson, 28, of Ocean City, was on the Ninth Street beach
on Oct. 5 when he heard a woman scream. He looked up to see several
children and their father clinging precariously to a rock
Betson, who has guarded this stretch of beach for years, swam to
their aid and nearly got caught in the rip current himself.
“As soon as I got up to them, I could see why they got in
trouble,” Betson said.
The children, all under 10 years old, were scared and clinging
to the slippery rocks. The father had the notion of carrying each
child to shore over the slippery and jagged rocks, but Betson said
they certainly would have gotten hurt that way.
Instead, Betson pushed each child back to the beach.
The father tried to swim back but got caught in the current as
well. He was carried even farther out to sea. Betson swam to him
and safely pulled him to shore, too.
“I was sucking wind by then,” Betson said.
Council presented Betson, a teacher in Middle Township, with a
resolution recognizing him for heroism that day.
Betson said he did not consider his efforts particularly heroic
since lifeguards make similar rescues without fanfare during the
summer. But he thanked council for the honor.
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