Water Tribe: North Carolina Paddler Laura Glantz Saves Downing Man’s Life in Wrightsville Beach

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Laura Glantz Crystal Pier Wilmington Beach Surf SUP North Carolina
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We all know the treacherous nature of water. How sometimes what looks so beautiful from shore can quickly turn into a harrowing situation that leaves an individual surprised at the quick turn of events and need for help. Carolina Cup photographer Laura Glantz was surfing her stand up paddle race board at Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina when she pulled a drowning man onto her paddle board and saved his life.

Another great example of a paddle boarder using their skill and knowledge to help find a positive outcome. Laura, we salute you!

Laura Glantz Crystal Pier Wrightsville Beach North Carolina stand up paddle
We all know Laura for her steady & stoked presence at the Carolina Cup as photographer. What few people know is her super human ability to remain calm in a hazardous situation. Her focus and skill helped save a drowning man’s life. Laura, we salute you!

Acting Quickly:  A Swimmer in Distress

Out for a paddle the other night, near Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC I suddenly heard a man screaming for help. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a head disappear by plunging underwater again and again. Through the whipping wind, current and waves alongside Crystal Pier and no farther than 50 yards from the beach, the man’s family and bystanders watched helplessly as surfers not far away didn’t even realize the man was in serious danger. He was drowning.

The seemingly innocent, small waves rising in that area can quickly and forcefully suck a person into the hole underneath and they panic. Unless you understand swell and piers, it is best to give them wide berth.  Always.

For some reason, God placed me near the man on my paddle board that night in a mushy, churning wave. I heard him yelling but I wasn’t sure the reason. I shouted to ask if he was okay.  Panicked and tired, he screamed, “NO! Get me out of here. I can’t swim!” Then, his head disappeared under water again, deeper this time.

I don’t know what came over me as my body, mind and board became like a razor focused arrow on the swimmer in distress as I yelled to him to trust me. I promised I would get there. Time, doubt and fear erased from my consciousness. I refused to accept he might go under one more time and not come back up. With strength and a determination I didn’t know existed in me, I made it through the wind and chop over to where the exhausted man was literally at the brink of extinction.

Laura Glantz Crystal Pier Wilmington Beach Surf SUP North Carolina
No stranger to North Carolina’s waters, Laura Glantz is an avid stand up paddler, like the rest of us, with a skill set and huge passion for water. Photo by: Nicki Bloomer

Barely afloat:  Steadiness Under Pressure

I quickly realized he didn’t have the strength to grab my board. So, I plunged my paddle underwater into his desperate hands and hauled him up, then over and finally onto my board. I made him look me in the eyes, while I calmly and firmly put my hand on his arm and said I wouldn’t let you go. I asked him to breathe and hang onto the board. Don’t. Let. Go.

“Truth be told, I’ve NEVER seen anyone’s eyes so scared and glassed over like that. And, I’ve never felt the desperate grasp of a drowning man until that night.”

Truth be told, I’ve NEVER seen anyone’s eyes so scared and glassed over like that. And, I’ve never felt the desperate grasp of a drowning man until that night. Finally, with the help of two heroic surfers who witnessed the drama and paddled over to me, we transferred the man onto a smaller board. Slowly, carefully in the midst of our watchful trio, the swimmer made it to shore and staggered up the beach to his stunned family.

I’ll never forget what I felt tonight. I’ve experienced the bond of the water family who, together, helped save a man’s life. I am humbled beyond belief to have been a part of that process. We all know that for as beautiful as she is and for as much as she gifts us, Mother Ocean will also take life in a split second. Most of all, that night God showed me how important we ALL are. HE places us EXACTLY where we need to be, when we need it for moments of strength we never imagined possible.

Tonight I bow my head in gratitude for God and for the man I saved. I hope one day I will see him again to share a hug!

Editor’s Note:  Laura, I hope we can ALL see you this Nov. 4th-8th for the 10th Annual Carolina Cup so we can give YOU a big hug.

Written by: Laura Glantz
Wrightsville Beach, NC

Laura Glantz offers award winning graphic design branding, website and photography services for individuals, corporate and government professionals. From logos, flyers, posters, t-shirts, labels, custom illustrations, signage and vehicle graphics, to real estate signs, athlete, family, bridal, headshot, landscape and surf photography. Glantz Photo & Design also offers small business template-based website design. This is a U.S. Veteran owned business.  You can learn more about her at:
Laura Glantz Photo & Design

Laura Glantz Wrightsville Beach North Carolina Crystal Pier
Laura gives herself the gift of waves a few nights later, giving thanks.  Photo by:  Marissa Ruehle