SOUTH BOWERS, Del. (CBS) — State police say the bodies of two missing swimmers who were pulled into strong currents at a Delaware beach have been recovered. Authorities say brothers 21-year-old Kevin George Jr., of Philadelphia, and 20-year-old Zion George, of Tennessee, were located Wednesday morning.
A good Samaritan was able to pull two members of the group of swimmers to safety, both of whom were from Philadelphia. But the George brothers disappeared from sight before they could be reached.
“It’s a hard thing to see and I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime,” said Michael Hignutt, assistant chief of the South Bowers Beach Fire Department.
Before activity took over the waters of the Delaware Bay off of South Bowers Beach, it was the calm spot where Hignutt and his cousin, Timothy Smith, went fishing.
“They walked by me and asked if I had been catching fish and I stated, ‘Nah, I just got here,'” Hignutt said.
The group he encountered consisted of 21-year-old Kevin George from Philadelphia, his brother Zion George, of Tennessee, Kevin’s girlfriend and another man.
“When they arrived at South Bowers Beach, the tide was low,” said Heather Pepper, with Delaware State Police.
But those familiar with the area know that when the tide rises, the current becomes suddenly strong and a person can easily be pulled into the Murderkill River.
“I told my cousin they are in a bad area, they are going to get swept in. It wasn’t less than five minutes I heard hollering and screaming,” Hignutt said.
Hignutt was not just a bystander. He’s also an assistant fire chief.
“I initiated contact with the Kent Center, had them dispatched for a water rescue,” Hignutt said.
He then rushed to the group’s aid, pulling the 20-year-old male and woman to shore.
“I said I don’t know you, you don’t know me but I’ve got you,” Hignutt said.
“After that, troopers were on scene and unfortunately Kevin and Zion were not able to be located,” Pepper said.
A search and rescue mission continued until 9 p.m. for the men and then resumed as a recovery Wednesday morning. The brothers were found deceased in the water around 10:30 a.m.
Hignutt says his heart goes out to the two he pulled to safety because of what they witnessed and lost.
“I was there. That’s my job, that’s why I got into it. It’s not for some people,” Hignutt said.
According to Delaware State police, the four were not strong swimmers, which is especially dangerous when combined with an unfamiliar waterway.