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Capsized boaters reunite with rescuers

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) A pair of Murrells Inlet boaters whose boat capsized reunited with their rescuers for the first time Thursday night.

Lynnae Ashmawi and David Hayword were two of the three boaters stranded by a cluster of rocks near the North Jetty of Murrells Inlet, just north of Huntington Beach State Park.  The incident occurred around 2 Saturday afternoon.  Hayword says he was able to escape onto the cluster of rocks, but Ashmawi was caught in the boat, and eventually forced to abandon the boat before it capsized.

"[I was] praying to God it wasn't going to capsize with me inside because there was no way I could jump to the rocks," Ashmawi explained.

As luck would have it, a banana boat tour from Express Watersports in Murrells Inlet was passing nearby as the boat was getting ready to capsize. Banana Boat Captain Bryan Jones plucked Ashmawi from the water, possibly saving her life.

"The first thing I thought was ‘thank God, thank God somebody was out there'," Ashmawi said.

Rescue teams from Georgetown County Beach Patrol arrived a few minutes later and helped Hayword as well as the other stranded boater to shore.

Ashmawi suffered deep contusions on both legs and thighs, but said she will likely make a full recovery from her injuries.  For the time being, Ashmawi is using a walker and seeing a physical therapist to deal with the injuries.

Thursday night, Ashmawi had the chance to meet in person with Jones and her other rescuers for the first time since her rescue.  The two embraced each other outside Express Watersports, and Ashmawi thanked Jones for helping her.  Jones downplayed his role in the rescue, saying he thinks he was just in the right place at the right time.

"I'm just glad she's doing okay and doing well," Jones said.  "It could have a lot worse, I'm just happy for her."

Hayword met with his rescuer as well, a Georgetown County Beach Patrol officer who helped pull him to safety.  Hayword credited the officer for saving his life, as Hayword is unable to swim.

"Thank you and God bless you and everybody you know," Hayword said to the officer.  "Without you, I would not be here, and you know that's…true."

Hayword said the entire rescue was just another example of the people of Murrells Inlet taking care of their own.

"You really don't have to know [anybody], but if you're down with the inlet, the people are good to you; they take care of you," Hayword stressed.  "They look out for you and they help you, and that's exactly what happened in the water."

Hayword said he hopes to learn how to swim in the near future, and Jones said he would be happy to teach him. No word yet on when those swim lessons might begin.

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