NEW JERSEY (WTXF) - It had all the makings of a great day at the beach for the Matos family. They went to Long Beach Island Sunday on the first day of a heat wave with temperatures over 90 degrees. They even brought back sea shells when they returned to their home in Clementon.
But Marcia Matos recalls the moment the fun came to an end.
"That's when sheer terror kicked in for me because I couldn't get to her," she said about her daughter. She and her 11-year-old daughter Mariah decided to go out further into the water after her 13-year-old daughter Makayla and other relatives swam back to shore. Marcia says they were only waist deep in the water when a rip current swept them out.
"I was like let's swim parallel because that's what I read before that you swim sideways to the shore until you swim out of it. But it wasn't working. We were still just being pushed out," she says. They were so far apart.
"Seeing her drift away from me it was the most helpless feeling that I've ever felt in my life," she said.
Marcia says then a man drifting toward them grabbed Mariah. A girl on a surfboard got them on and back to shore. Meanwhile, another man grabbed Marcia. In all, five people pulled off a daring rescue saving this mother and daughter.
"I couldn't breathe. I swallowed so much sea water," said Marcia. But they only got to meet one of the five who saved them. They hope this story reaches them.
"I need them to know that what they did means more than they probably realize," said Marcia. Mariah said, "I would thank them for saving my life and my mom's life because without her I wouldn't really be anything or even be here."