'Hero' witnesses speak about Ormond Beach drowning

FOX 35 News spoke exclusively to three college seniors who helped pull a woman out of the Atlantic Ocean on Monday. It was their first day of Spring Break and one they will never forget.

"Initially I thought it was just a life jacket."

"We certainly didn’t think we’d be pulling someone out of the ocean on our first day of spring break," said Ryan Krueger.

He and his two friends started their break a little differently from most other college seniors, by pulling a woman from the ocean in Ormond Beach.

"There wasn’t a lot of thinking going on, it was just fight or flight. You just kept going to the next thing," added Krueger, who’s visiting from Chicago.

Beach officials have now identified the woman as 53-year-old Tammy Gordon from Pennsylvania. They said she was at the beach alone. Her brother was staying in a hotel nearby. The three students were among the many who jumped in to try to save the woman. 

Grace Damico is a lifeguard, and she told us that she knew how dangerous it would be to run out into the water.

"I wasn’t really comfortable going out there, but thankfully she came closer to the shore, and we were able to pull her out and begin chest compressions and stuff," said Damico.

They continued compressions until first responders arrived. Tammy Gordon was pronounced dead at the hospital. These students say they simply had to step in and try. 

"It could have been any one of us choosing to swim yesterday and if that’s any one of us, I’d want someone to help me or my friends," said Mary Beirne.

The brother of the victim told FOX 35 News he was too overwhelmed by his sister’s death to speak.  Beach officials said with the current weather and rip currents, they will likely fly the red flag all week for hazardous conditions.

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