‘Two nurses on the beach, what were the chances of that?’: Ocean rescue survivor meets those who saved him

Ocean rescue survivor gets opportunity to meet bystanders and emergency responders who saved him
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 11:37 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It all started out as a typical morning for Brian Tracy.

“I did my normal yoga routine, did some weightlifting, ran four miles, and then decided to go surfing,” Tracy said. “That’s where the memory is gone.”

Tracy was found floating face down in the water. He would later learn he had a cardiac episode.

“It was a 99 percent blockage of my right coronary artery,” Tracy said.

People just relaxing at the beach noticed Tracy and pulled him out of the water.

One of those people was Abigail Horne, a respiratory therapist who just happened to be in town for the day to watch her friend run a half marathon.

“I checked for a pulse and started CPR immediately,” Horne said.

She continued CPR until emergency responders got there. Despite her experience working in health care, she said dealing with a situation like this on a normal beach day was scary.

“In a hospital setting, I have all the equipment I need and other doctors,” Horne said. “It was very nerve-wracking to stay focused and handle this situation, but everyone stayed calm.”

Horne said it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

Tracy didn’t regain consciousness until the next day when he woke up in the ICU.

“I remember asking, ‘Is this a dream?’” Tracy said. “It didn’t feel real.”

Almost three weeks later, Tracy had the opportunity to award Horne, other bystanders and emergency responders with certificates recognizing their efforts to save his life. At the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting on Thursday, the room was packed with people who were there on that day and their family members.

“I’m just so grateful and thankful to everyone,” Tracy said.

Horne said it was amazing to get to talk to Tracy for the first time.

“I think it’s absolutely crazy that we’re here today. It’s the best-case scenario I could ever imagine. Great to see him and see that he’s already well and up and running,” Horne said.

Tracy recognizes how lucky he is that he was on the beach the same day as the bystanders with backgrounds in healthcare.

“Two nurses on the beach, what were the chances of that?” Tracy said.

But both Tracy and Horne said anyone can learn the skills necessary to save a life.

“Learning how to do first aid and CPR is a great thing for citizen response,” Horne said.

“If you can just play that one small part until professionals, emergency response or ocean rescue gets there…everything that those folks did before the AED got there is part of saving my life,” Tracy said.