Teenager died at Sullivan's Island remembered for living - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Teenager talks about losing best friend before water rescue on Sullivan's Island Tuesday

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James Williamson of North Charleston was pulled from the water near Station 28 1/2 just a few blocks from Breech Inlet. James Williamson of North Charleston was pulled from the water near Station 28 1/2 just a few blocks from Breech Inlet.

The Charleston County Coroner's Office identified the 17-year-old swimmer who died after being pulled from the water off Sullivan's Island Tuesday afternoon as James Williamson.

Williamson, of North Charleston, was pulled from the water near Station 28 1/2 just a few blocks from Breech Inlet.

A slew of first responders rushed to Sullivan's Island Tuesday afternoon to respond to a 911 call concerning three people who were struggling in the water.

Sullivan's Island Fire Department tells News 2 the person who called 911 said he could no longer see his friends in the water. 

One of the teenagers rescued, Nick Salvatini, spoke with news 2 Wednesday. He said the boys stepped off a sandbar and couldn't reach the bottom for 2.5 hours before he saw rescuers.

"There's no way to tread water for two and a half hours so I told both of them to float on their back and I don't know exactly what happened but Chris and James were together and apparently Chris told me they got hit by a wave and got separated and that's when nobody saw James again after that."

Williamson was given CPR when rescuers pulled him out of the water but Salvatini said they knew he had already died.

"James' last words were to tell his girlfriend that he loves her and that was really hard to hear that because at that point I still had to fight my battle and make it into shore, and after he said that, that's basically him saying he was done and was going to die and I had to go on for the next two and a half hours knowing that and that was hard," Salvatini said.

Those close to Williamson said they find comfort in a quote he published in their senior high school yearbook, "live life day by day because you never know when it's going to be taken away."

 

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