Mother's Day tragedy: Man, woman die trying to save toddler on Georgia beach

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Efforts to rescue a toddler struggling in the ocean off Georgia’s coast turned tragic after a man trying to help the toddler was swept underwater and drowned died. A woman also died in the incident, police said Monday.

A crowd gathered on the beach of St. Simons Island on Sunday evening when bystanders saw 34-year-old Aleisha Rankin fighting to stay afloat after she had waded into the water with a toddler. Several people plunged into the water to attempt a rescue, said Glynn County police spokesman Brian Scott.

According to CBS reporter Christy Turner, family members confirmed the woman, identified as Aleisha Rankin did not know the toddler and was out there trying to save the child. Rankin leaves behind four children of her own.

“All I heard was there was a baby in the water,” Travis Williams, who was among the bystanders who rushed into the water as high tide approached, told The Brunswick News.

Gregory Grant, 39, of Brunswick also swam out to help the struggling woman and child. Witnesses said Grant vanished beneath the waves and didn’t resurface.

“The undercurrent, it was so strong,” Williams said. “We couldn’t grab him.”

Williams said he and others managed to bring Rankin and the child to shore on the beach roughly 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Savannah. He said he watched as two nurses performed CPR in an effort to revive the woman.

Rankin of Jesup was taken to a local hospital, where she later died, Scott told media outlets Monday. He said the toddler saved from the water was in good condition.

Turner tweeted a social media post from one of Rankin's daughters, saying "My Mother Lost Her Life Saving Someone Else Child Thats A Real Mother."

Meanwhile, emergency responders including local police and firefighters, the Coast Guard and Georgia Department of Natural Resources officers launched a search for Grant using boats, helicopters and drones.

He remained missing until Monday morning, Scott said, when members of Grant’s family on the beach spotted his body in the water.