WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2009
UPDATE: Watch all three news stories on the three lacrosse players
Lacrosse has only been on campus at Jacksonville University for a few weeks but already its student-athletes are making an impact in the community as several members of the JU men’s lacrosse team saved two people from drowning in the tumultuous rip currents caused by Hurricane Bill less than three weeks ago.

Freshmen Dan McNulty, Mike Williams and Joe O’Rourke were among the players who went to Jacksonville Beach on that day to enjoy the sun, sand and company of their teammates. Suddenly, one of the players thought he saw something wrong and alerted the other teammates to a man crying for help.

“We heard a man yelling ‘help, help,’ and saw that he was being taken out to sea,” said Williams, a Maryland native. “A couple of us ran in and grabbed him until a lifeguard came out to help us take him back to shore. The man was telling us that he couldn’t move his arms or legs because the current was so strong and he was so tired from struggling.”

After the first incident, McNulty, Williams and O’Rourke went out to body surf when they heard more cries help.

“There was a woman about 20 yards away from us screaming and flailing,” said McNulty. “She’d been caught out in a riptide and it was taking her down. We swam over to her and she was hysterical so we tried to calm her down but every time we would grab a hold of her, a big wave would come crashing down and taking her under again.”

Finally, after fighting with the woman for several minutes, seven lifeguards came up with a body board and took her safely to shore.

“After the whole situation, we went back onto shore and a lifeguard came up to talk to us,” said O’Rourke. “He told us that if we weren’t there, they wouldn’t have been able to get out there in time. She would have died.”

Head coach Matt Kerwick said that he was proud of the actions taken by his players over the weekend.

“One of the most important things we look at when thinking about bringing a player to our team is their character,” said Kerwick. “We can all be thankful that they were there to help that day. These young men are prime examples of the courage and leadership that we want in our family.”

None of the players have ever had any lifeguarding experience but, instinctively, they knew what to do.

“She was yelling but we managed to stay calm,” said McNulty. “She kept yelling ‘I’m not going to make it,’ but we kept telling her it was going to be OK. She was flailing around, making it almost impossible for us to keep hold of her but somehow we did it. Eventually, we managed to calm her down until the lifeguards got there. We’re just glad that she’s OK and we were able to help.”