There are some people in this world who are nothing short of heroes, and Jalan Alston was one of them.
The 18-year-old, from New York, died after heroically saving the lives of two of his friends when they were caught up in a rip current off Jersey Shore.GoFundMe Source: GoFundMe
A press release from the US Coast Guard stated that Jalan had gone missing on Friday 10 July after jumping into the ocean to save his friends. Coast Guard personnel joined forces with Vetnor City Police Department to look for Jalan after receiving a 911 call from two women, who mentioned that Jalan was still in the water after pushing them to safety.
After a 12-hour long search over air land and sea, which was eventually suspended, it was announced that Jalan’s body had been recovered.Pexels Source: Pexels
Jayda Smith, one of the girls who Jalan had rescued, has created a GoFundMe fundraiser in Jalan’s name. Her $12,000 target, which would be used by his family “to create a beautiful funeral for him”, has now been surpassed, with funds of more than $23,000 being raised at this time of writing.
Beneath a photo of Jalan beaming at his school’s graduation, Jayda shared her story. She wrote:
GoFundMe Source: GoFundMe
“My name is Jayda Smith, and Jalan Alston saved both me and Sierra’s lives from the rip current off the Jersey shore. 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.”
This hero teen had rescued his own friends, even while knowing that pushing them to safety would inevitably put his own life in grave danger.
Pexels Source: Pexels
“It’s because of him that I am here, sharing his story to the world. He has such a beautiful soul and spirit, heart and mind. He gave me a second chance, and I will be using it to make his life, his legacy rememberable, starting here.”
Friends and family of Jalan have rallied together to remember the brave young man, with Jalan’s brother telling USA Today :
“He would do things for you, so it’s not far out there that he did this. He’s not here because he wanted to save people.”
He continued to say that his younger brother, who had recently graduated from George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn, had been planning to pursue an engineering career, which he planned to take a civil service exam for in the fall.GoFundMe Source: GoFundMe
It’s thought that New York’s Tropical Storm Fay had caused the unusually choppy waters that had led to the tragic accident. Riptides are strong offshore currents that pull water away from the beach or shore, and they’re nearly always impossible to fight. In fact, trying to fight against a riptide can often make matters worse.Pexels Source: Pexels
In an update to her GoFundMe page on 13 July, Jayda wrote:
GoFundMe Source: GoFundMe
“We have officially reached our goal !! Thank you everyone who has donated thus far, and thank you to everyone who continues to donate after the goal has been reached.”
“All extra proceeds will be used to celebrate his life and to kickstart the foundation to educate on the dangers of the ocean, especially rip currents, to beachgoers and swimmers through classes and educational pamphlets given out with the purchase of a beach badge on the Jersey shore, along with local restaurants and stores, lifeguard stands/towers and headquarters, and a website.”
While it seems that a positive has come out of this tragic story, it’s deeply saddening that the life of a young man with so much potential was lost. Jalan Alston was a hero, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be forgotten any time soon.
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