MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Two lifeguards were recognized Thursday for saving a young boy from drowning in a swimming pool at a Myrtle Beach resort in August.
Baudilio Diaz and Tianna Gierstorf received awards from the American Red Cross for saving the 3-year-old, who was found face-down in a pool at the Kingston Resorts on Queensway Boulevard. Both said they had never experienced a situation like this before.
“You don’t think, you just jump,” Diaz said.” I mean, you don’t have time to think. You just do it.”
Gierstorf said there were three lifeguards working at the time. She said she remembers the pool being very crowded. With all of the people surrounding him, she said “you would think someone would have seen him sooner.”
“The dad was actually looking for his son,” Gierstorf said. “He didn’t know where he was at the time, and he had come over right as we saw him. We kind of all saw him at the same time, so it was kind of a weird event. [Diaz] originally rushed into the water where the dad was also rushing to. They both grabbed the boy and I responded to him, gave him CPR, back blows, finger swabbed … just tried to get him to aspirate as much water as I could.”
Gierstorf was manning a lifeguard stand at the time and it was Diaz who spotted the boy in trouble.
“I was cleaning the cabanas over there,” Diaz said pointing. “Tianna was right here, and I was walking over there with some towels, and I just saw the kid and jumped into the water because I saw the kid.”
He said saving the boy made him “happy.”
“I don’t know why,” he said. “I feel great ’cause we saved a life, so that’s making me feel amazing.”
Gierstorf said this is her first lifeguarding job but that she has had experience in first aid and emergency situations. She said she doesn’t consider herself a big “award” person and that she was just doing her job.
The incident didn’t keep the boy from continuing to enjoy swimming in the pool during his family’s stay, Gierstorf said. However, it did encourage him to wear a life jacket.
She also said that she has been in contact with the boy’s family since the incident and receives updates from them letting her know that he’s doing well.
Situations like this one happen a lot but, Gierstorf said it was a first for the resort.
The director of safety and security at Kingston Resorts said lifeguards there are certified and go through monthly staff training as well to help them stay prepared.
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Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and was raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and read more of her work here.