Retired Lifeguard from Brick Saves Young Lakewood Boy Drifting Away on Boogie Board in Ocean

A retired lifeguard from Brick is being hailed as a hero after saving a young Lakewood child who drifted away in the ocean on a boogie board.

The incident happened at around 7:00 PM Wednesday evening while Matt Portnoy was out enjoying Mantoloking Beach.

Suddenly, Matt heard a boy on a boogie board screaming for help from the ocean, and then the boy’s mom in her dress rush into the water to try and grab him.

“The boy was screaming “help! help! help!” Matt recounted. “His mother jumped in in her dress but couldn’t get out to him.”

Matt jumped into action and swam out to the approximately 11-year-old child quickly drifting away. (“My wife said she thought I was being pulled out, but then she saw “the little black dot I was swimming after,” Matt said. She snapped these pictures too.)

“The first thing I did was actually tell him to calm him down and stop panicking,” said Matt.” Then I saw he couldn’t kick in – he had a boogie board – so I actually timed how the rip tide was pulling him and I grabbed him when I had a chance.”

Matt brought him to shore and the boy was reunited with his mother.

“He was very lucky,” said Matt. “It was almost night and it could have been a coast guard search if he kept floating out to sea!”

He added, “We almost didn’t go to the beach too! It was such a miracle.”

Had Matt not been there, things could have ended tragically.

“The beach was practically empty but luckily he was screaming help to a trained lifeguard,” said Matt, who is now an insurance broker. “He was extremely lucky I was there Buruch hashem.”

After the incident, Matt explained to them how the rip tide works and how life jackets actually makes it harder to swim in in a rip tide.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids get swept out to sea by rip currents and can’t swim in because of the life vest,” Matt said. “It’s a very big misconception. A life vest is good for a shipwreck out at sea, but not good for trying to swim in rip currents.”

Matt says he is hoping this experience will help others.

“If it saves a life in the future I’ll be very happy,” he said.

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  1. As Matt said, at 7:00 p.m. this time of year it’s almost dark. Who lets their child go into the ocean at that late hour? Also, there have been multiple public warnings that dangerous rip currents [note: there’s no such thing as a rip TIDE] have become prevalent along the eastern seaboard in the wake of hurricane Idalia. Someone wasn’t listening, but B”H this incident ended well.

    • Kudos to Matt! But unfortunately there are those who are officially still working in their careers of saving lives, and they are not fully committed to the max to their life-saving work, and oftentimes they are lax in their attitude and indifferent to the task that they have been entrusted with by G-D Almighty – and this can be detrimental and fatal to those who are relying on them.
      Hash_m Yeracheim.

  2. “Whoever saves a life is as if he saves the entire world!!” This boy as well as all generations after him have you to thank! May G-d continue protect you and watch over you as you have done for others.

  3. Please, as a local who lives in Lavallette, please have respect for the ocean. No lifeguards on duty means no going in the water. No exceptions. Please spread this to your friends.

  4. I have gone to the shore multiple times with my family towards evening when the crowds subside and the absolute lack of basic safety awareness by members of our community is a disaster in waiting.

  5. Matt, I read this story with tears in my eyes.

    It’s such an amazing story, you were at the right place at the right time.


  6. What do you think he should do about it? How about some personal responsibility and common sense, like do not swim when there are no lifeguards???

  7. Maybe our frum assemblymen can arrange a private beach in an out-of-the way area (there’s plenty of coastline to share!) this way we can all enjoy the beach in safer conditions.

    • The way to enjoy the beach is to swim only when there are lifeguards on duty. Everyone can share the beach. Each town has it’s own beach for the public, meaning everyone. You have to pay for a beach badge and if necessary pay for parking to get on the beach. It is off season now. No swimming. No exceptions. I wish everyone would obey this rule.

    • That’s laughable when you consider the laws in NJ regarding beachfront property. It sounds like you are unaware of these legal restrictions to access.

      The solution is much more simple. Only swim on beaches where there are lifeguards. Observe red flag warnings.

  8. Please!! Stay out of the ocean when lifeguards are not present! We have had several drownings since Labor Day weekend! No more tragedy…please spread the word!

  9. I really hate to be negative but as a mother who would let their young child in the ocean at 7:00 p.m. with no life guards!! Sorry but this mother did not use good judgment

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