Oceanfront employees help rescue family from rip tide

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Oceanfront was a lot quieter Thursday than the start of the week.

“It was definitely more crowded that day,” Erik Bray, the manager of Waterman’s Surfside Grille, said about the beach.

Bray has worked at the restaurant for nearly 6 years. He was working on Monday afternoon when an emergency unfolded before his eyes.

“I was in the restaurant talking to a few of my servers prepping for the night shift when a little girl ran in telling us to call 911,” Bray said.

Bray says he and waiter Will Richardson did not hesitate to run out and save a father and son struggling in the water.

“We saw them on the boogie boards. They weren’t necessarily drowning. They were stuck in the water,” said Bray, who is a former lifeguard.

As Bray and Richardson dove into the waters, with the help of another bystander, an audience watched from the restaurant.

“We didn’t know what was going on at first. Then, we saw them take their clothes off, grab and boogie board, and run into the ocean,” said waitress Ellie Ruffin.

Ruffin says the scene reminded employees of a famous TV drama.

“It reminded us all of Baywatch,” Ruffin laughed.

Bray said employees also picked up a new term from the incident.

“Because my last name is Bray, the owner came up with a hashtag — #Braywatch,” he said.

While Bray can laugh about it now, he says the rescue highlights the danger rip currents pose to beach visitors this weekend.

“I definitely think without lifeguards, people were sitting, looking, not thinking anything was going to happen, and got pulled out not knowing to swim parallel to the shore,” Bray said.

Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services wants to remind those out still enjoying the beach that now is not the time to be out in the water due to rough conditions.

The service says Monday was the first day without lifeguards staffed and a swimmer ended up drowning, which makes Waterman’s employees more appreciative of their co-workers’ heroic actions.

“We’re really proud of our boys,” Ruffin said.