An Atlanta man is thanking two strangers who risked their lives to save him from a rip current in the rough sea along the Florida Gulf Coast.

On Friday, Atlanta chiropractor Dr. Patrick Sallarulo was on vacation with his wife in Seacrest, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. He waded into the surf, and was standing by himself on a sandbar in waist deep water.

“I mean, I figured okay, I’m on a sandbar, I’ll be safe, you know, it’s only waist deep, but it happened just like that,” Sallarulo said, snapping his fingers.

He said the bottom just dropped out and a rip current sucked him out to sea.

His collarbone broke, so he was having trouble treading water to keep from going under.

Sallarulo said a prayer and thought only of his wife and two grown daughters.

“I started to say I don’t think I’m gonna make it,” he said.

Just then, two men he’d never met appeared out of nowhere.

“Suddenly I heard two guys, calling to me, say, stay calm, we’re on our way out.”

Dr. Sallarulo is grateful to his rescuers, Tom Slattery and Kevin LaGraize, of New Orleans. He also is grateful to a lifeguard who reached all three of them with a flotation device, to help everyone get to shore. But he said he is embarrassed for nearly losing his life and for putting their lives at risk.

Because it was a red flag day at the beach, lifeguards were warning people to stay out of the water and away from the life-threatening rip currents.

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