SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A special reunion Wednesday between a Texas man and the San Diego lifeguards who saved his life.

On June 9th, Ian Black, 35, was in San Diego visiting his parents. He told News 8 he thought he was a decent swimmer, but he was no match for the high surf and strong rip currents off the coast of Windandsea beach.

Black said the rip current was so strong he panicked and ran out of energy. “I do remember yelling for help and gurgling. I thought that was it – I would do anything for a breath of air,” he said.

Nearby surfers saw Black head down in the water and pulled his body up onto their board. When he was pulled from the water, Black was not breathing and had no pulse.

Once on dry land, San Diego lifeguards James Earnest and Shane McIntyre began their efforts to revive Black. “He was unconscious, blue and had no pulse so we immediately initiated CPR,” said McIntyre.

Earnest and McIntyre said the surfers who pulled Black from the water played a critical role. “For us this is what we are paid to do, and everyone did the best they could,” said Earnest.

Black spent six days in the hospital. Two of the days he was in a medically induced coma. After being released, Black said he wanted to return to the lifeguard station in La Jolla to thank the men who saved him.

“They are my heroes. These people did incredible things to save my life. I got incredible lucky,” said Black.

McIntyre said, “to see that he is fully recovered, that really validates what we do.”

Ian Black on Wednesday returned to Texas where he is studying biology at the University of Texas, Dallas. He plans to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical genetics.

Here in San Diego, lifeguards encourage any type of swimmer, even the most skilled, to stay out of unguarded waters – especially with strong rip currents – and to always ask a lifeguard where the safe areas to swim are located.

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