Josh McQuiod, 12, was playing with a friend in knee-deep water at the beach on Napier's Marine Parade, New Zealand, when he was knocked over by a wave. The heavy surf swept him 500 feet down the shore.
"When I was in there I thought I was going to die," Josh said. "The waves smashed me so much, there were five really big ones, they flipped me around quite a few times, I was underwater, I think the longest for about 20 seconds."
He told ONE News it was "like being in a washing machine you know, just boom, boom, boom."
A nearby police officer rushed to Josh's rescue but found himself being pulled under by the current, too.
Another officer started yelling for help, urging beachgoers to form a human chain to help reach the drowning boy.
"It was amazing to watch and a huge relief to see the boy brought to shore. I really think if the police had not arrived at the scene so quickly he would have drowned." a bystander told ONE News.
Josh was unresponsive when the good Samaritans first dragged him to shore. Some of the beachgoers administered first aid as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
"I'd love to thank them so much for what they did, they saved my life, if it wasn't for them I'd be dead," Josh said.
After a brief observation in Hawke's Bay Hospital, Josh was discharged with a clean bill of health.
Josh's parents, Kath Ku and Shame McQuoid, publicly thanked everyone who saved their son:
"I'm just so thankful for all the people that were there and the police officers, because if they hadn't have gone in our son wouldn't be here today," McQuoid told Radio New Zealand. "It's just amazing."