Surfer Rescues Man Who Nearly Drowned in N.C. While Spreading Daughter's Ashes in Ocean

Dennis Kane, 71, became trapped in a rip current, and Adam Zboyovski rescued him

Adam Zboyovski and Dennis Kane
Dennis Kane and Adam Zboyovski. Photo: Shannon Kane Smith

A family outing to the beach meant to pay tribute to a late loved one nearly turned into tragedy — but didn't, thanks to the heroics of a local surfer.

Dennis Kane, 71, was among several family members visiting Corolla, North Carolina this weekend to spread the ashes of his late daughter when he became stuck in a rip current, daughter Shannon Kane Smith wrote on Facebook.

Luckily for the Kane family, Adam Zboyovski was driving by the scene picking up chairs for the beach rental service he works for, and quickly grabbed his surfboard and leapt into action, InsideNoVa reported.

"Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they have surfboards," Smith wrote on Facebook.

Smith said that that she and about 40 other family members were at the beach on Friday to mark the birthday of her sister Kerry Kane, who died unexpectedly at 41 in May 2020.

Because Kerry had grown up in North Carolina and considered the area home, the family had plans to head into the water and release a biodegradable urn containing her ashes, InsideNoVa reported.

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Smith told the outlet that her father, from northern Virginia, came back to shore with the rest of the group, but went back out after he noticed the urn hadn't properly sunk.

At that point, she said, the water began to get "super rough, really fast," and Kane became trapped in a rip current.

That's when Zboyovski — who told the outlet he's "been known to catch a few waves" — showed up.

"I just happen to always have a board close by," he told InsideNoVa. "This one was tough because the ocean conditions were really bad and I couldn't read the ocean like on an average day. Also, the board had no wax at all on it so I was slipping off just paddling out."

Zboyovski told CBS affiliate WUSA that he noticed Kane wasn't screaming for help, and appeared to be doing a "dead man's float" on his back, which was a signal that he was "pretty much out of energy."

After Zboyovski plucked Kane from the water, a family member who is a nurse gave him first-aid on shore, and he was rushed to the hospital and treated for water in his lungs, according to InsideNoVa.

"Honestly if he hadn't gotten there when he did, I don't think my dad would have made it," Smith told the outlet.

Kane was reportedly released from the hospital on Saturday night, after which Zboyovski stopped by the house the family was renting so that they could give their thanks.

"I think the most touching part about it when I met his granddaughter and she was thanking me because…being a young child, watching their grandfather drown would just be the most horrible thing," he told WUSA.

An estimated 100 people are killed by rip currents each year, according to the United States Lifesaving Association.

It's a misconception that rip currents will drag swimmers under the water — they'll actually just pull swimmers away from shore, often prompting a panicked response. Experts say people stuck in rip currents should remain calm and try to swim parallel to shore instead of toward it. If unable to do that, it's best to let the current carry you out to sea until its force has weakened and you can swim back to shore without having to fight it.

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