Hero teen, 16, dies on vacation saving kids he didn't know from drowning

A 16-year-old boy from Atlanta jumped into action after seeing a group of younger children in distress at a Florida beach on Thursday. He died while saving them, as did a family friend who went into the water to help the teenager with the rescue. Bryce Brooks was on a family trip to Pensacola when he and a group of friends "witnessed four other younger kids who they did not know being pulled by the current," his father, Shivy Brooks, said during a news conference. The incident happened while they were on spring break, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV. The teenager, as well as two others, immediately jumped into the ocean, while the rest of the group ran to find adults. "Our son Bryce, while being pulled by currents himself literally called for help, but not for himself, he was calling for help for the little kids he was looking out for," his father said.

Unfortunately, while he was in the water, Bryce "was pulled under," his father added.
When their close family friend, Charles Johnson II, whom the family just called "Uncle Chuck," went in after Bryce, he was pulled under as well, Shivy said.

"Our family is devastated," he said. "Our community is devastated."

Officials in Escambia County said that four people were pulled over 100 yards by rip currents that day, according to ABC affiliate WEAR-TV.

The incident took place in an area with no lifeguards, the outlet reported, adding that at the time, yellow flags — which indicate moderate currents — were flying.
Although nothing can take away the pain they feel, the boy's parents — who were featured alongside Bryce in an episode of Netflix's Instant Dream Home — say they're "so proud" of him.

"Bryce is a hero. He literally saved the lives of four kids at the expense of his own," his father said at the news conference.
"We're never gonna get to see Bryce grow up to be the full man he was going to be. But we know that he stepped into his manhood to save these children and that makes me proud," added his mother, Crystal Brooks. "It doesn't take away an ounce of pain, but it makes me proud of our son and what he sacrificed. And I'll forever hold that."

His parents said that Bryce was a "creative" kid, who had a passion for music as well as fashion. In addition to being a member of his school's fashion club, he was very sharp and "just made honor roll a week ago," his father said at the news conference.

In remembering Johnson, a husband and father of three, the teen's father remembered the family friend as "a person that looks after everyone."

"That he would give up his life in an attempt to save Bryce's life; it's everything I expect and I know about that man," Shivy told NBC affiliate WXIA-TV.
A fundraiser set up on behalf of the family by the "Get Your Teach On" organization has raised over $78,000 as of Tuesday.

"Bryce's actions helped to save several lives. We can not even begin to understand the unimaginable impact this has had on their family, friends, and loved ones but know the power of this community," organizers wrote.

In an update over the weekend, they asked that people also remember to pray for the couple's 6-year-old Christian "as he learns of the loss of his brother."

"Our heart breaks for him and continues to break for their entire family," they wrote.

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