Four Atlantis lifeguards and a RIU lifeguard were recognized as heroes and gifted with complimentary hotel stays for their roles in saving the lives of four boaters who found themselves in distress near Cabbage Beach last Saturday.
Atlantis said the lifeguards went “above and beyond the call of duty”.
One of those lifeguards, Sashaun Armbrister, 26, was getting ready to leave work on Saturday when he heard there was potential trouble on the beach.
Armbrister and his fellow lifeguards observed the capsized boat and also saw the men trying to swim toward the shore, however, they struggled due to the crashing waves. Once the men arrived at the buoy, which is around 100 yards from shore, Armbrister, a former competitive swimmer jumped in.
“I went in, no fear, no excitement, no concern,” he said.
“I just went in. In my mind I was just like, I have to go in. I have to get them and I have to get back.
“I braved the waves, I collected them and one of the guys said just take him and come back for me. In my mind I could not do this again especially in these waters. I told them have faith in me, grab the tube, I’m going to take you both back. Coming back was harder than going forward even though I had the waves pushing me, because the waves were actually bombarding me. I was rolling over but I still fought. At one point I got pulled under and I had to swim under, and then pop back up and keep going. I reached the shore and took a short break and I could not get back in because the pull was too much. I had to go, turn around, and told them brace yourself you’re going to have to be thrown in.”
As Armbrister rescued those two men, his coworkers Dremeco Rahming, Marinique Leary, and Adrian Bowe, along with RIU lifeguard Travis Sands, risked their lives to retrieve two other men from the water.
The men who were saved had minor injuries but were otherwise safe and grateful to be alive.
Leary, 22, is an Eleuthera native who grew up around the sea. She’s also the mother of a seven-month-old girl, and has been with Atlantis for nearly five years. She said this rescue was the highlight of her career.
“I grew up around the salt water,” she said.
“My dad is a captain. We usually go to the beach every other day, or when we were off from school we would spend our summers on the water with him. So I have a passion for salt water. That’s basically my peace. I love what I do. I love to help people.”
Another rescuer, Travis Sands, 32, was grateful to Atlantis for recognizing their efforts.
“I do feel like a hero,” he said.
“I’m very happy about the event that took place today to reward us and recognize us in that area. He was weak when he came out of the water. He couldn’t stand up. Once we got him out of the water, and got him on his feet, he was so happy he thanked both of us with hugs.”
Atlantis President Audrey Oswell said the lifeguards made Atlantis proud. She said their rescue efforts are a sign that Atlantis takes water safety extremely seriously.
“The successful rescue on Saturday demonstrated the Atlantis team’s commitment to leadership, teamwork, courage and water safety,” Oswell said at a breakfast hosted in honor of the lifeguards.
“I also want to thank all the departments and divisions along with those rescuers who assisted in some way and demonstrated Atlantis’ core values on Saturday – passion, commitment, integrity and courage on the dangerous stage of our beautiful ocean.”
Prime Minister Philip Davis was also present at the breakfast where he applauded the efforts of the lifeguards.
“In The Bahamas we know all too well that though our pristine waters are beautiful, they are also powerful and perilous,” Davis said.
“When four people found themselves in a dangerous situation out at sea, it wasn’t just the waves they battled but also time, uncertainty and fear. Yet, in such dire circumstances, our lifeguards did not wait. Their selfless tenacity proved what it truly means to be a guardian of life.
“It is in teamwork that our greatest achievements are made. Though turbulent waters may overcome the one, together, many can battle through.”
The five lifeguards received complimentary three day and two night stays at Atlantis, including meals.
Twelve other first responders were given lifesaver certificates.