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Couple who rescued drowning victim are advocating for lifeguards

Posted at 12:20 AM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 00:20:31-04

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — The couple that tried to rescue a 19-year-old from drowning is hoping to raise awareness about the importance of lifeguards at South Haven beach.

Last Tuesday, 19-year-old Jazmyn Patterson was atop a flotation device with her 4-year-old cousin. The two overturned, and Patterson successfully managed to push her cousin towards the shore where family and bystanders managed to help him.

Patterson then went underneath the water and did not reemerge. Relatives say she was submerged for about 5 minutes before Jason and Amanda Brussee noticed something wrong from their boat. They could see a lone floatie and sirens on land.

"Immediately we knew something wasn’t right," said Jason. "So we approached the area and noticed 3 or 4 individuals in the water."

They offered to help after some people pointed to a spot in the water screaming "a girl, a girl."

The two looked down and saw a shadow in the water.

"So I immediately took my sunglasses off and just dove in the water about 10 to 12 feet down, and that’s when I found her," said Jason.

Jason was able to breathe air into her lungs. He held onto her with one hand and held onto the side of the boat with the other. They managed to get her to the shore, where about 40 people began helping her or her family in some way.

"My heart goes out to the family. It's just such a horrific thing to go through."

The experience has changed their perspective of the need for lifeguards on the beach.

"At least somebody is on the beach with a radio and can do something. You’re not waiting for someone to come in four minutes later and then start a rescue," said Amanda.

They wish they could have gotten to her sooner and believe a lifeguard would have been able to help in the imminent moments Jazmyn needed help.

"Somebody would have gotten to her in two minutes. It’s gone over my head multiple times. I think we would have had a different case."

The couple now hopes to talk with local officials and lawmakers about their experience and urge them to consider having lifeguards on the beach.