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New York Teen Drowns After Jumping Into Ocean to Save Friends from Rip Current: ‘He Didn’t Know How to Swim and He Didn’t Tell Them’

A New York teen gave his life last week to save two friends who got caught in a rip tide at the Jersey Shore.

On July 10, Jalan Alston was at the shore in the Atlantic City suburb of Ventnor, New Jersey, with Sierra Williams and Jayda Smith when the two women got caught by a rip tide. Alston jumped in the water to assist his friends and helped them make it back to shore.

Jalan Alston (middle) drowned on July 10 after he jumped in the ocean to save his Sierra Williams (left) and Jayda Smith (right). (Photos: Facebook, Alston family, 6 ABC screenshot)

“He selflessly and almost instinctively jumped into the current after me, pushed me out and got me to shore. He then tried to get back to the shore with Sierra’s help, but to no prevail,” Smith wrote on GoFundMe.

The 18-year-old, who hoped to study electrical engineering in college, didn’t make it out of the water even though Smith tried to return the favor.

“While I grabbed everyone, Sierra continued to try and get him out. Jalan couldn’t get out the spot, and couldn’t stand to walk out,” Smith said in an account shared on her mother’s Facebook page. “Every time Sierra had attempted to pull him or he would try to grab Sierra they both went under, and he knew what was happening. Sierra told me there was a break in the waves for a moment, and he shook his head at her. Sierra tried one more time, but Jalan didn’t allow her and used the rest of his strength to push her over just like he did with me.”

Ventnor Police Chief Doug Biagi said Alston’s body was recovered in the waters off nearby Atlantic City on Saturday night, according to 6 ABC. Alston’s mother, Jahdiel Alston, told the news station her son could not swim and did not tell his friends.

“He saved both of them,” she said. “But he couldn’t swim. He didn’t know how to swim, and he didn’t tell them.”

Mark Alston, his brother, is not surprised the recent high school grad was willing to sacrifice his life to save Smith and Williams.

“My brother is best described as strong and selfless, he always looked out for me the same way I looked out for him,” he told 6 ABC. “He was pure of love and will always be remembered for his positive impacts due to the fact that I don’t have any negative ones. He was never combative and treated everyone fairly and equally. He is courageous and one of the smartest kids I know.”

Smith started the GoFundMe campaign to raise $12,000 for Alston’s funeral expenses.

“He has such a beautiful soul and spirit, heart and mind,” Smith wrote. “He gave me a second chance, and I will be using it to make his life, his legacy rememberable, starting here.”

The GoFundMe raised more than $20,000. Smith promised to dedicate the extra funds to creating materials and classes to educate beachgoers about the dangers of rip currents and other marine hazards.

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