VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The first thing you need to know: 42-year-old Michael Manley who was visiting from Wilmington Delaware, dreaded the ocean because he feared sharks. The second thing: when called to action, Manley just dove in, and that decision saved a life and cost him his.
“What he did was go out and save his step-son, Andrew Short, from a rip tide which is pretty much the most heroic thing you could ever do,” says Manley’s longtime girlfriend Amy Fosdick who spoke with WAVY by phone from their home in Wilmington, Delaware.
They were all in town for a destination wedding in Sandbridge. Sunday, Manley tried to rescue 17-year-old Andrew Short off Sandfiddler Road in Sandbridge.
“Andrew was waving his hands, and I was freaking out,” says Fosdick.
The surf conditions Sunday in Sandbridge were extreme with strong undertow pulling swimmers like Manley away from shore.
Fosdick knew it was a rip current, Andrew was struggling, and Amy yelled for someone to call 911. “The whole time I’m waving him in, screaming at him…’come on you can do it. Keep going. Swim!’ I was throwing up my arms in the air. Yelling at him. ‘Come on Andrew, you can do it,’ and I saw Andrew all the way in, and when I looked up Michael was far, far out there.”
Amy so lasered on her son, did not realize Michael took matters into his own hands and jumped in to save Andrew, “He swam out to Andrew. Andrew says he came up to him and he seemed strong and good like everything was fine, and Michael just told Andrew to ‘relax, lie on your back, and just relax, and let the waves take you that way, until you can get in,'” Fosdick said.
Then, however, things went terribly wrong. Fosdick continues, “And then Andrew said he looked over, and Michael seemed OK. Andrew started to go that way [towards shore] but Michael got sucked back the other way [away from shore] and it was absolutely horrific.”
Amy started yelling for Michael, but he was too far out and alone. “He like drifted. He couldn’t even hear me. I don’t think he ever heard me say his name.”
Amy calls Michael one of the most selfless, kindest, bravest persons she’s ever known. “This is just one of the things he’s done. He did things for others all the time. He gives you the shirt off his back. He holds doors for all the old people when you walk into a building. He’s the one who runs out to help someone across the street.”
Amy and Michael met while Amy was in High School. They had been together ten years and together have a 3-year-old son affectionately called ‘Little Michael.’
Can you imagine the lonely ride home to Wilmington, Delaware without Michael? Amy says, “Michael’s the person that will go to aid anybody who needs it. That is Michael.”
It is clear on Sunday that was Michael, until the very end.