Boy swept away on unicorn float rescued off NC coast

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A young boy had to be rescued off the coast of Oak Island after the unicorn float he was on carried him out to open water. 

The Oak Island Water Rescue team is warning swimmers after the boy was saved hundreds of yards away from shore on June 3. 

Water rescue says witness comments heard on the beach and posted on social media indicate that the boy was drawn out to sea when a strong wind pushed the raft from shallow water to deeper water in a matter of seconds. They say it appears the boy was well-watched, but wind was swift.

"Once it was out past the waves, the big float acted like a sail and the unicorn float kept going away from the beach," they wrote in a Facebook post. "From all accounts, it sounds like there was adequate supervision in place. Witnesses said it happened in just a few seconds."

The organization says sometimes these types of emergencies can happen so quickly that being even a few feet away isn’t close enough to prevent it. Luckily, a call for help came in quickly, and crews were able to reach the boy before he was taken out any farther. 

They say that day, the wind was blowing from the beach toward the ocean-- not the normal wind pattern they see from week to week. Water rescue says when the gusts are blowing that way, it's not uncommon for them to get multiple 911 dispatches for rafts blown into deeper water.

"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," the Facebook post read. "So thankful for all the responders who helped bring the little guy back to shore."

At least one person reportedly attempted a swimming rescue before the water rescue crew arrived on scene, but couldn't get to the child. Luckily, the swimmer, who may have been using a boogie board, made it back to shore, but Oak Island Water Rescue says that easily could have resulted in a exhausted swimmer drowning as some have estimated that the boy was a quarter of a mile to half a mile off the beach.

Great work guys!