Apr. 30—When he heard cries for help for a young boy who was trapped underwater, Shaun Skursky stopped what he was doing and jumped into the water to save the boy.
The boy was caught in an intake tube in a lazy river attraction at a resort in North Myrtle Beach, where Skursky, 33, of Plains Twp. was vacationing.
He pulled at the boy, but didn't free him. Then he dove underwater to perform rescue breathing, hoping to supply him with oxygen.
Skursky is a correctional officer at a state prison, where he deals with stressful, potentially dangerous situations. That experience helped in the sudden emergency in which he found himself on March 19.
"I think that a lot of my training from the jail probably helped me in trying to rescue this boy, because we don't have time to think about what we're doing at the jail, we just have to do it," he said. "When I saw a little boy who needed help, I didn't think about anything but trying to save this little boy's life."
He learned CPR in the training academy for his job, but had never performed underwater rescue breathing. It was a sudden decision that saved the boy's life.
Another vacationer, who happened to be a correctional officer from New York, jumped in behind Skursky to help. Someone called 911, and another bystander ran to the hotel's front desk for help. Police arrived, then other first responders. After about eight minutes, the suction on the intake tube stopped and they were able to free him.
Skursky doesn't know the boy's condition now, but he knows he is out of the hospital and back home.
NBC's "Today" invited Skursky on to talk about the rescue, and the North Myrtle Beach fire department invited him back to the town for an awards ceremony to honor all the bystanders who helped and the first responders who were involved.
"We didn't leave until we freed him and had done all we could for him," he said. "That's the mindset of us correctional officers and all first responders. We don't give up until the job's done, and luckily in our case the job was a successful one."