BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Deputy Ray Maulbeck loves spending time at the beach. He grew up surfing it in New Jersey and it's where he began life guarding nearly 50 years ago.
"The beach is a place to get rid of your demons, get away from your troubles," said Deputy Maulbeck.
However, in the Panhandle, when the Gulf of Mexico starts to churn, the beach many of us love, can become dangerous when rip currents put swimmers in distress.
On August 27th, Deputy Maulbeck was driving along the beach when he noticed an inner tube, floating in the water, with no one nearby.
"So I went to investigate to make sure everyone was OK and then I saw two females separated by 50 feet."
As he got closer, he learned more about the dire situation in the water.
"People started running up to the truck, saying there's an infant out there."
Maulbeck grabbed his board and paddled about 150 yeard out to find the mother of the baby, crying, and in distress.
"Then what I saw, was the infant, face down in the water."
He quickly grabbed the baby and realized he wasn't breathing. After he got mom positioned on his board, he told her she'd have to do rescue breaths while he paddled them in.
"Gut wrenching, the feeling, such a horrible feeling coming over your body, having that child on there," said Maulbeck. "I just worked as hard as I could to get that child in."
Stuck in a rip current, it takes almost four minutes to get back to shore. However, a sense of relief as he got closer, when the baby made a sound.
"The rewarding thing while coming in, I heard the kid gasp and cry a little bit," said Maulbeck. "It was a little hair-raising, to have a kid not breathing on your surfboard."
This experience, even nerve wracking for a man whose dedicated his life to serving his community and spent a lot of is life, in the water.
He joined the Navy 20 years ago, where he spent nine years as Navy Tech and then spent 11 years with Marine Recon.
He actually retired from the Bay County Sheriff's Office four years ago, but couldn't stay away, working part-time, specifically with the Beach Precinct.
"What I do is I work the weekends and I come in when it's rough," said Maulbeck.
The mother and child are OK, and the other woman stranded in the water was also rescued by a different Bay County deputy.
Maulbeck said three other medical professionals on the beach helped with rescue breaths once the child was back to shore.
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