When Sincee George and her family were hit by a sneaker wave near Clam Beach the day before Thanksgiving, George thought that she was going to lose her four-year-old daughter and it was the scariest moment of her life.
“She was like 50 feet out in a matter of seconds,” George told the Outpost in a recent phone interview. “I was holding on to my son and I could just see her getting pulled out all the way. I thought my daughter was gone.”
George, her husband and their three children — a seven-year-old son, four-year-old daughter and a 16-month-old baby — were playing on the beach near Vista Point, where the mouth of the Mad River meets the Pacific Ocean, when they were struck by the sneaker wave. George’s husband was, luckily, holding their baby and able to protect him from the impact. But her other two children were knocked down, rolling into the water. George said she scrambled to grab them both, but was only able to grip on to her son and her young daughter was swept out of her reach.
Then, almost immediately, George saw a man run past her. She was holding on to her son, who was vomiting up water, and looked up to see a pair of long legs moving out towards her little girl. “I didn’t see what happened,” she said. “I just saw that he brought her back to me. I feel like God put him in the right place at the right time to save us.”
The whole family was soaking wet and cold. A woman who was at the beach with this man wrapped her scarf around George’s son and placed her hat on George’s baby. George is so grateful for the warmth and kindness that these two strangers showed that day, especially for the man who saved her daughter from the ocean.
George and her family, members of the Yurok Tribe, have lived in McKinleyville for nearly 10 years, she told the Outpost. They have spent a lot of time at the many local beaches, George said, and she is well aware of the risk of sneaker waves. These disproportionately large waves that appear without warning can be incredibly scary, dangerous and sometimes deadly. Many of the nearby beaches have signs warning people of the risk of sneaker waves, but George said she did not see a sign posted at this particular beach.
Even so, George feels incredibly guilty for putting her family at risk. And she knows that by telling this story some people may accuse her and her husband of being careless. But that is fine with her, George said. All of her children are safe now, and that is all that matters. She is willing to face the criticism if it means that she can publicly thank the man who saved her daughter from being swept out to sea.
This is why George reached out to the Outpost. With no social media, George said she was not sure how else to get in touch with her rescuer. She is hoping he will read this and know how thankful she and her entire family is that he was there that day and that he helped them without hesitation.
“It all happened so fast, I didn’t even think to ask his name,” George said. “We just wanted to sincerely thank you and may God bless you.”