By CBS3 Staff

VENTNOR CITY, N.J. (CBS/AP) – A recent high school graduate from New York died over the weekend while trying to save two of his friends from drowning in Ventnor City. Friends of 18-year-old Jalan Alston say he jumped into the water, near Victoria Avenue, on Friday after he saw two of his friends being swept away in a rip current.

“Jalan Alston saved both me and Sierra’s lives from the rip current off the Jersey shore,” friend Jayda Smith said in a GoFundMe post. “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. He understood what was happening, grabbed her wrist and shook his head, then with a push sent her to the shore with me using his last bit of strength he had. It’s because of him that I am here, sharing his story to the world.”

Alston’s two friends made it safely back to shore. One of them then called 911, and the Coast Guard launched an intensive search for Alston that lasted for several hours before it eventually was suspended.

His body was recovered almost 24 hours later on Saturday by Atlantic City Beach Patrol.

“The family of Jalan Alston has some closure with his recovery and with that we need to start healing as a community and do our best to see this never happens again,” Ventnor City Police Department Chief Douglas Biagi said. “Please be safe this summer and only swim at guarded beaches when lifeguards are on duty.”

Authorities said the rough surf was spawned by Tropical Storm Fay as it passed through the region, and they believe Alston and his friends were caught in a dangerous rip current.

Alston’s friends have started a GoFundMe for his funeral expenses.

“He has such a beautiful soul and spirit, heart and mind. He gave me a second chance,” Smith said. “The proceeds raised will 100% go to his family to help create a beautiful funeral for him. Jalan will forever be in our hearts and our minds; we promise to make him proud. Rest easy, Jalan Alston.”

 

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)