Lowestoft man Ryan Grice thanks 'absolute hero' Kai after near-death experience in rip current at North Denes beach
A Suffolk man who was convinced he was going to die after a rip current dragged him out to sea has thanked the heroic stranger who gave him 'a second chance at life'.
Ryan Grice was swimming at North Denes beach in Lowestoft on Sunday when he found himself being pulled under water.
"All of a sudden I couldn’t move anywhere. I kept trying to swim but then I noticed I was being dragged away whilst going under and swallowing water," he said.
The 27-year-old photographer and graphic designer tried to grab a nearby wooden groyne but was swept away by the waves.
"I was losing all of my energy battling. I was trying to keep my head above water and panicking," he said.
It was at that moment that Ryan, whose girlfriend Carla was back on the beach unaware of what was happening, realised he could die.
"I just thought I couldn't do it anymore because I was physically and mentally drained," he said.
"I said to myself this is it I’m going to die and I kept thinking about my partner sitting by our things not knowing what was happening to me."
I honestly thought I was going to die and I believe I would have if Kai hadn't saved me
But then a stranger, called Kai, whose partner had alerted him after having seen Ryan struggling, came to the rescue.
"I then got this rush and told myself I couldn't give up - someone was there so I started to power through my tiredness," said Ryan, who lives just minutes from the sea in Lowestoft's North Parade.
"Kai got to me and got me to hold on to the paddle board whilst keeping me calm and we made our way back. He then sat with me for five minutes to make sure I was okay.
"I honestly thought I was going to die and I believe I would have if Kai hadn't saved me."
He added: "I can't thank Kai enough for saving my life and putting his own life in danger to save me.
"Words literally can't explain how grateful, blessed, lucky and thankful I am. I thought I was going to die and had given up hope until I saw him.
"He has given me a second chance at life and my partner, family and friends still have me because of his bravery. He is my absolute hero and I hope he and his family have someone looking over them at all times."
In the time since his near-death experience, Ryan said he has come to realise how quickly things can take a turn for the worse and how one small change on that day could have lost him his life.
"Kai just happened to be out for the day and even said to me that he wasn't going to bring his board," he said. "Someone was definitely watching me over me.
"All I have been thinking about since is going back to the moment where I felt like I couldn’t carry on trying to fight the water and thinking that I was going to die and leave everything behind.
"I keep thinking that the last time I could have seen Carla was when I said I'm going back in the water for a swim.
It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are, it can change just like that.
"Life is fragile and I’m very blessed that I’m still here to tell my story."
Ryan, who is a keen swimmer, also warned others of the dangers of the sea and urged them to be careful.
"The sea is very dangerous and everyone needs to be educated on swimming in the sea," he said.
"It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are, it can change just like that.
"Please read my story to your loved ones and let them know how dangerous it is and tell them to research before heading to the beach. I nearly lost my life because I didn’t know how to get out of a rip current."