Waitress leaps off pier to save boy in distress

A Daytona Beach woman jumped off a pier to save a boy, but she ended up with serious injuries.

Hanna Pignato, 19, was working a shift as a waitress at Joe’s Crab Shack Saturday night on the Main Street Pier. At about 8 o’clock, she heard a commotion below, realizing it was a mother screaming for her boy who was struggling in a rip current.

“She was so scared, it scared me so bad,” said Pignato.

With nobody around trying to save the boy, she jumped into action.

“I surf and I swim, so I thought, I can get to that kid,” said Pignato.

That’s all the convincing the waitress needed.

“I don’t even remember taking off my shoes and then I just jumped,” she said.

What she didn’t see was a sandbar below the pier. The water was less than three feet deep where she landed, breaking her back and foot on impact.

“Excruciating pain excruciating pressure, agony,” said Pignato.

Despite her injuries, she kept swimming.

“I wasn’t gonna give up but I knew I wasn’t going to save him at that point, which really broke my heart and I was just broken hearted,” said Pignato.

Moments later, Pignato was rescued -- she recalls a stranger comforting her on the beach.

“I remember, she was holding my back, she was just rubbing it and everybody was arguing because everyone was so frantic, you know,” said Pignato.

She was rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center of Daytona Beach for treatment and has since been overwhelmed with love and support for her act of bravery.

“So many people are reaching out to me, from all over, and I didn’t think that just trying to help somebody, I would get so much love, that’s not what I was trying to do, I was just trying to help him,” said Pignato.

The boy was rescued, but Pignato wants her story to inspire others to rise to the occasion to help.

“To go out of their way to help people, if you see somebody hungry on the street and you have something extra, give it to them, if you see somebody sad, smile at them,” said Pignato.

Her co-workers and friends have established a Go Fund Me account for her medical bills and to help her get by while she is out of work recovering. Here is a link to the correct account.