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‘Selfless’ Atlanta Teen Hailed a Hero After Giving His Own Life to Save 4 Children He Didn’t Know from Drowning In the Gulf of Mexico

An Atlanta family is mourning the loss of their teenage son and family friend after both drowned during a spring break trip in an attempt to save a group of kids that they didn’t know near Pensacola, Florida.

The parents of Bryce Brooks told local reporters that their 16-year-old son was selfless and should be remembered as a hero.

Left Photo: Bryce Brooks and his younger brother playing outside of the family’s Atlanta home; Right Photo: The Brooks’ family at church one Sunday in March 2023; (Photos: Screenshots from Crystal & Shivy Brooks Facebook pages)

“Our children witnessed four other kids who they did not know being pulled by the current further out to the sea,” Bryce’s father Shivy Brooks explained during a news conference outside Maynard Jackson High School in southeast Atlanta. “Our boys sprung into action.”

According to Shivy and Crystal Brooks, on April 6 their son Bryce witnessed a group of children he didn’t know being pushed by a current at Johnson Beach in Perdido Key, Florida, and appeared to be drowning. Bryce and two others jumped into the Gulf of Mexico waters to save the other children, while three other boys ran to get help. Unfortunately, he began to be pulled under by the strong current, and he drowned.

The current also took the life of family friend Charles Johnson II, also known as “Uncle Chuck.”

Johnson jumped in to attempt to save Bryce. The children were rescued, and four people were transported to local hospitals in the wake of the emergency, the Escambia County Public Information Office for Public Safety told the Pensacola News Journal.

“At that time of being selfless, our son Bryce … while being pulled by currents himself … literally called for help, but not for himself,” Shivy said. “He was calling for help for the little kids he was looking out for.”

Bryce attended Maynard Jackson High School along with Johnson’s son, who was also on the spring break trip. The Brooks’ family said Bryce was an honor roll student, a member of his school’s fashion club, loved to make music, and always took care of his younger brother. He also appeared on the Netflix show “Instant Dream Home” with his family, in which a crew secretly renovated their Atlanta house.

“We’re never gonna get to see Bryce grow up to be the full man that he was going to be,” Crystal said. “But, we know that he stepped into his manhood to save these children, and that makes me proud. It doesn’t take away an ounce of pain, but it makes me proud of our son.”

The family hopes their story sheds a positive light on teenagers in Atlanta after the recent negative media coverage of teenage gun violence in the city.

“Let it be amplified that Atlanta-developed kids would give up their lives for other kids,” said Shivy Brooks.

A GoFundMe was started to help the family with funeral costs, and it currently has reached over $80,000 in donations.

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