Ex-Giants RB Peyton Hillis’ reflects on near-death experience rescuing family: “Miracle that somebody didn’t die”

The former NFL running back Peyton Hillis had a bizarre experience at a Florida beach earlier this year while he was with his family there to enjoy their free time, yet it left him in such a mess that he lost consciousness there and was immediately hospitalized.

Hillis was given the all-clear from the hospital two weeks after the incident, but more than four months later, the star player revealed in an interview with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, he is still traumatized and reflecting on one of the scariest incidents of his life.

Peyton Hillis opens up about a near-death experience

The incident took place in January, as Peytons’ family were enjoying themselves near the shore after a bad storm day though they were unaware of the red alert of the beach that he claimed in the interview. Soon, the former star player heard his mothers’ sound as his son and niece were on the verge of drowning due to a rip current.

Peyton Hillis in intensive care after saving kids from drowning

“I hear my mom screaming and so, I looked at her and she pointed out to my son, and she says, ‘Orry and Camilla are drowning,’” said Hillis, who said he doesn’t remember seeing any lifeguards, but county officials patrolling the area. “And so, I didn’t even think, I reacted and started running into the water,” said the former player.

Unfortunately, as he reached the spot, he was bewildered about who to save as his son and niece both were in danger, yet he said he decided to save his niece as she was in more danger and soon reached her surpassing his son.

“I think the scariest point was when I’m swimming to my son and I have to pass by him because my niece is in more danger,” he said. “I knew that I had to pass him up to get to Camille first. Because, you know, if I didn’t then there’s no way she would’ve made it.”

Did Hillis save his kids?

The player took on the role of Super Dad for both children, risking his own life to save their lives. The moment Peyton Hillis arrived at his niece, he discovered her so terrified that she believed she was going to pass away shortly, the kids’ uncle did not let her remain terrified for long, however, and he helped push her to safety by placing her on a boogie board.

Peyton Hillis in intensive care after saving kids from drowning

“And so what happened … I swam past my son, and I got to Camille, and she starts freakin’ out, you know, ‘We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die,” he cited.

Though by that time Peyton’s niece was out of danger, his son was still keeping his eye on his father to save him as he had little strength to survive by swimming, and the former NFL running back then soon took his turn for his son.

 “You can’t swim and you’re holding him, you’re seeing his eyes roll back in the back of his head,” he told describing his sons’ situation.

Finally, the 37-year-old was able to save his sons, but he also lost consciousness, started to experience lung and kidney failure, and was quickly transported to Pensacola’s Baptist Hospital, later it took him almost 10 days to regain consciousness. Hillis was grateful that it was a miracle that no one was killed as a result of the accident because it was not simply to save his life without a life jacket.

Peyton Hillis improving after saving kids from drowning

“It’s very dangerous to just let your kids go out there and swim, especially without life jackets. It is 100% a miracle that somebody didn’t die,” he added.

It was almost a near-death experience for the former running back’s family, nevertheless, his role as a super dad saved them for that day and it remains a warning for those who visit the beach without paying much heed to the environment.


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Shabiha is a sports content writer for Sportszion. The writer completed her graduation in Management and post-graduation in HRM. Writing is her passion and she has a long career goal in relation to writing.


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