Tamarindo Teenager Saves Grown Man from Drowning

Ben Sampson

It was a regular Thursday afternoon. Jacob, our friend Nate and I wanted to surf Langosta after school.

We arrived at 2:30 when the tide was going out from the river mouth. This causes a huge, and dangerous rip current. The surf was good but Jake, Nate and I were the only ones out there.

Then I noticed a man, yelling in Dutch, “HELP!!!” He was waving his arms rapidly and getting sucked out to sea. I watched and noticed that the life guard didn’t see that he was in trouble.

I paddled over just in time, as he started sinking into the depths of the sea. I offered my board just in time. I was sitting in the middle of my board. He grabbed on to the front. Right away, I noticed that he was not comfortable in the water. This didn’t come in handy when the huge set came. The first wave almost sucked us over the falls, but we were o.k. I could see a couple more coming. The last set wave came and we were fine… or so we thought.

The last set wave was bigger than the rest. I was sure that one of us was about to endure some pain if we didn’t move fast. We were both holding on to my board facing the wave. I told him to kick his feet so we could get through the wave before it crashed on us. He couldn’t understand what i was saying. I tried to get through the wave with him holding on to my board but he didn’t even try to kick.

That’s when i realized he had no idea how to swim.

The wave started to break and my vision went black from the water. I tumbled and turned and got thrown in what we surfers like to call, the “washing machine.” After that I had a moment of panic. The guy can’t swim!!!

I got on my board as fast as I could and paddled back out there. He was literally drowning. I got there just in time. He crawled up on my board. He was coughing, spitting, and breathing heavily. There were no more waves to go over the falls on, (thank goodness)!

I tried multiple times to call the life guard in until he finally got the message. He came out and helped get the guy get back to shore, since he was too big and heavy for me to take myself.

Jake, Nate and I went to another surf spot down the beach until it was time to leave. As I was walking out, I saw the guy and his wife. They came over to say thanks and I shook his hand. As I did, he gave me 40 dollars. I was so happy and said thanks and then we went our separate ways.

-Ben Sampson
Future Life Guard

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  1. Bravo! What a scary scene you paint. I am so impressed with your bravery, stamina, and courage. So grateful that you and he are safe!

  2. You’re an amazing human being, Ben. Nothing is more selfless than risking your life to save another. And intuitive and compassionate. You have made the world a better place with your random act of kindness.

  3. What an amazing young man you are!!! Bravo for you ?

  4. Ben-Thank you for sharing your story. In a world where too few people step up an act, you recognized an emergency situation, kept your cool, and did what needed to be done.

    Strong work.

  5. Wonderful selfless action of caring. I am happy to know that there are kids like you. The future is in good hands!

  6. Very impressed with this amazing save! As surfers, we’re always the ones in the “right place at the wrong time”, when it comes to saving drowning victims (I’ve had 4 rescues over 30 years). This will be the first of many heroic acts for young Ben, I’m predicting.
    We’re a prospective family with surfing daughters 8 & 10 years old, so this really excites me to see how important your ocean activity part of the education is. See you soon…

  7. The same thing happened to me over in Tamarindo my daughter and I got caught by Riptide that was taking us out into the ocean when I realize our dilemma was serious I started to yell help 2 Surfers saw me and they came over and got my daughter they must have thought I was a stronger swimmer because they began paddling away from me turned around he saw I was still on trouble and paddles back to rescue me
    As soon as were safe they wet back to continue surfing I never got thier names or was able to give a reward but I keep them in my prayers and one day hope I can find them so I can thank them properly with three figures $$$. They saves my daughter’s life as well as mine. God Bless surfers!

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