Florida waitress recovering after diving off pier to save child

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WESH/CNN) – A 19-year old waitress is recovering in the hospital after diving off of a pier in Daytona Beach to save a child stuck in a rip current.

Hanna Pignato was working the rooftop at Crabby Joe’s restaurant just before 8 Saturday night when she realized a child was struggling in a rip current. She ran down here to pier level and jumped in—at least a 20-foot drop.

Pagnato said, “Right when I jumped I was like, ‘I’m done.’ Like, right when I hit the bottom floor it was like maybe 2 feet, 3 feet.

Despite broken bones in her foot and back, Pignato has just one regret: that she didn’t go deeper.

“Like, I’m a good swimmer so I was like, ‘I can get to this kid but I should have walked down to the pier a little bit more and done it so much better,” she said.

Instead, Pignato hit a sandbar and needed rescuing herself. But she said she had to act as she watched the child being pulled farther and farther out, barely keeping his head up as the child’s mother shouted for help.

“She was screaming bloody Mary, like just screaming, like I could just hear the fear in her eyes. I was scared. Everybody was scared. I’m like, thinking in my head, ‘That kid is going to die because no one is in the water.’”

In those panicked moments, Pignato said the rough surf may have led her to misjudge the depth, but ultimately the often emotional young woman said there was really no time to think about her actions. “I love when families are with families because I know what it’s like not to have my family and I didn’t want her to go home without hers.”.

The 8-year-old was saved by bystanders and beach safety officers. He swallowed a lot of water so he was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

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