He almost died in a hurricane rip until NJ man jumped in and saved him
LONG BRANCH — Days after his life was saved, former professional boxer Dustin Fleischer got to meet the hero who pulled him out of the rough water off Seven Presidents Park on Friday night.
The Monmouth Beach athlete had been swimming when he got caught in a rip current. Even though he knew what to do to escape a rip, Fleischer struggled to pull away.
A stranger saw Fleischer in distress and waded into the ocean to drag him out of the surf.
The two never exchanged names but Fleischer wanted to thank his rescuer.
After Fleischer's email address was posted in a story on the front page of the Asbury Park Press on Monday, Fleischer received an email from the girlfriend of Edrick Alleyne, a 27-year-old man from Eatontown. They spoke on the phone Monday night.
"I did the best I can to express my gratitude," Fleischer told New Jersey 101.5 on Tuesday. "If he wasn't there I don't think I would have been able to stand up on the damn shore."
Alleyne told New Jersey 101.5 he was walking along the park's beach with his girlfriend and their child when someone came by running looking for help. He considers himself to have been in the right place at the right time.
"Just glad to be there to help him get out of that situation," Alleyne said.
Three people died over the weekend at Monmouth and Ocean county beaches including a 41-year-old man from Piscataway who drowned a day later at the same park where Fleischer was swimming. Long Branch Police have not disclosed his identity.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said Hurricane Maria, located 400 miles south of New Jersey, will continue to create dangerous surf through at least Thursday.
"10+ foot waves will continue to batter the beaches Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And, as we've been discussing for days on end, this presents an incredibly dangerous rip current situation for anyone who ventures into the ocean beyond the ankles. There are literally zero good reasons to take a leisurely swim in the Atlantic this week."
Fleischer has lived in Monmouth Beach for 15 years and never had any problems swimming in the ocean.
On Friday, he wanted to cool off after a workout, saw the water was rough and figured he would ride the first wave and then come back in.
"I kept missing the waves because I kept getting pulled out so fast. Before I knew it I was all the way out. I knew to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore and that's what I did. But for the longest time it seemed like I was going nowhere. It was like I would go under the waves. They'd catch me at the top and then drive me down further," Fleischer said.
Alleyne said he ran to the beach and saw Fleischer about 50 yards out and began emptying his pockets to go into the water despite people telling him not to.
"Certain things you have that intuition you feel you have to the right thing," said Alleyne, a 6-foot, former high school athlete.
He saw that Fleischer was caught in a whirlpool and thought he'd also get stuck.
"I told him to ride the wave. 'Ride the wave! Ride the wave! Let's go! Ride the wave!' Being a boxer he took to it. He got it together, he heard my voice he rode the wave in. I went in a little deeper to grab him."
Alleyne, who played sports in high school, said that they rode the next wave in together back to the shore.
Fleischer said he was yelling but didn't thing anyone could hear him because the ocean was not only churned up but noisy. "Once I heard his voice I knew I was getting closer."
"He did the most that any man could do ... nobody got their feet wet except for him," Fleischer said, adding that Alleyne almost got swept up himself.
"I kept pushing with everything I had and we both got up on the shore he dragged me out of the water I was really lucky he was there," said Fleischer, who stays fit with CrossFit workouts.
"That ocean is a bird of another feather. Mother Nature is undefeated in every weight class. These rip tides, when you're out there you're totally at the mercy of the ocean. There's nothing you can do. Please don't go in there. You're really taking your life in your own hands."
In the phone conversation on Monday, Fleischer said that Alleyne told him his was destiny that they were both at the beach that night. He agrees.
They plan to get together for dinner with their respective families and "celebrate life."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at email@example.com.
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