Kevin Cozzi was in the right place at the right time—and a Texas mom now wants to reward him for it. Per KXXV and KFSN, Samantha Whiting was at a beach in Monterey, Calif., on Aug. 15 with her children on their last day of vacation when she saw that her 10-year-old daughter, Hayley, was too far out in the water.
Whiting tells KFSN she yelled to Hayley to come closer to the shore, but Hayley was being pulled out by a riptide and couldn't make her way back.
Whiting jumped in after her and "swam as hard as I could to her but underestimated the current," she writes on her GoFundMe. "I had her on my back, but it was slowly taking both of us down." The two started screaming for help, which is when Cozzi, who was at the beach with his fiancee, came to the rescue.
"I've been swimming since I was 3 years old competitively, so I felt like I could get to them," he tells KFSN. "I ran out there and as soon as I got to the mom, I knew she was struggling." Cozzi was able to grab Hayley and get her closer to shore until a lifeguard showed up for the assist.
In the hubbub, Whiting only caught Cozzi's first name, but she was determined to find him. Last week, she posted about the rescue in a local California Facebook group, and she was soon reconnected with Cozzi, who she found out had to cancel his wedding because of the pandemic.
She then set up the GoFundMe to help raise funds for his eventual big day and honeymoon; the page has brought in more than $23,000 as of Monday morning.
"If it wasn't for him risking his life in such a selfless act, I would have lost not only my own life but my baby girl," she writes.
This article originally appeared on Newser: Her 10-Year-Old Was Pulled Out to Sea. Kevin Saved the Day