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Mother shares story of survival after she and her son were rescued by Stow teenager

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 7:02 PM EDT
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STOW, Ohio (WOIO) - A North Carolina woman who was rescued from an ocean rip current along with her 10-year-old son credited a Stow teenager with saving their lives.

Ashley Batchelor and her son Conner had just gone into the Atlantic Ocean while visiting Topsail Beach in North Carolina, not terribly far from their home near Raleigh.

Within a few minutes, she said they could no longer touch the seafloor and were being swept into the open water by a strong current.

They fought, but the mighty ocean proved too strong.

“[Conner] looked at me and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore, mommy.’ That’s when my heart sank. Everything changed for me,” Batchelor told 19 News.

The entire ordeal was captured by a drone camera.

“I kept seeing the drone over me and I’m like, ‘this drone is going to watch us die today,’” she recalled.

The drone belonged to a friend of the Shrout family; the Stow residents who were on vacation at the same beach.

Eighteen-year-old Travis Shrout saw the struggling mother and son off in the distance.

“I said, ‘are you alright?’ and she said, ‘no.’ That’s when I first started going,” he told 19 News.

He swam out with his bodyboard and gave it to Ashley to help her stay afloat. In the meantime, Conner had drifted off on his own, forcing Shrout to give chase.

“I didn’t look like he was doing well. I knew I was going to have to swim for him hard,” he said. “We couldn’t move. The current was still so strong. We were just sitting in place. A wave would push us in a little bit then the current would take us back out. I was wondering if I’d be able to get them back in.”

After about five minutes of struggling, another young man, Andrew Leonard, gave the trio another bodyboard for additional safety. He then extended his hand and yanked them in toward the shore as another wave crashed in.

“We’re so thankful for Travis,” Ashley said, before acknowledging Andrew’s efforts as well. “He didn’t think twice about saving us, he just did it.”

After the group was out of harm’s way, many of them embraced family members -- their own and those of the others involved.

Ashley and Travis’ mother shared a special moment too.

“I’m just telling her, ‘he’s my angel. If he has no other purpose, he’s fulfilled his life. He saved us,’” she said.

Travis downplayed his efforts.

“I’m not a hero. God put me in the right place at the right time. Anyone else would’ve done the same thing.”

Shrout has lifeguard training with the local YMCA.

Batchelor said both she and Conner are experienced swimmers.

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