A Flagler Beach, Florida, police officer is being hailed as a hero for his courageous rescue of two swimmers stuck in a deadly rip current on September 19. Officer Dylan Coffman’s act of bravery drew praise from witnesses who were stunned by his quick and efficient response.
According to police, the water rescue took place near 7th Street and State Road A1A. Police officers near the boardwalk were immediately alerted to the struggling swimmers. Coffman was driving his patrol car nearby when he heard the dispatch call of swimmers in distress and literally leapt into action.
Bystanders like Brooke Qualls, who was getting off work at a nearby restaurant when the incident occurred, looked on as Coffman entered the water.
“I saw him immediately fly his door open, and he looked right over the boardwalk. I instantly saw him ripping his vest off, and he jumped over the boardwalk [railing and] ran,” Qualls recalled to FOX 35.
Sean McSweeney, another witness, expressed his admiration for Coffman’s actions.
“I’d never seen anything like it. It was shocking, at the same time heartwarming, to see that a first responder would just jump into action like that, and it was great,” McSweeney said.
Describing the rescue’s impact on him, McSweeney added: “That’s something that I will probably think about at least two times a month for the rest of my life, and I’ll never forget it.”
Video footage shared with FOX 35 captured the moment when Coffman and another rescuer successfully brought the swimmers back to shore. While one of the rescued individuals appeared visibly exhausted, both were thankfully unharmed.
Reflecting on the incident, Qualls praised the professionalism of first responders like Coffman.
“You see them do what they do every day, and you can just tell they really know what they’re doing, and they know how to handle pretty much any situation that could be handed to them,” she said.
The Flagler Beach Police Department also praised Coffman’s work that day.
“Kudos Dylan on going above and beyond to make our city safe,” the department wrote on Facebook. Two days later, the agency posted a guide on how to escape a rip current, advising those trapped in strong currents to stay calm and to not try to swim back to shore going against the current.
“You will quickly become exhausted,” the Facebook post said. “Instead, float and swim parallel to the shore, and eventually, you will escape the current.”