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Woman trying to save drowning boy injured when she jumps off Daytona Beach Pier

The Daytona Beach News-Journal logo The Daytona Beach News-Journal 4/15/2019 By Patricio G. Balona, The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

A mother on the beach screaming. A little boy bobbing in and out of rough waves, possibly drowning.

The sight terrified 19-year-old Hanna Pignato, so she jumped off the Daytona Beach Pier into the sea on Saturday evening to try to save the child.

"I was just thinking that could be my little sister I would hope someone would save," Pignato said with a deep sigh, lying in her hospital bed Sunday afternoon. "So I jumped."

File photo of Joes Crab Shack restaurant on the Daytona Beach pier in Daytona, Fla. on Nov. 2, 2015. © Education Images/UIG/Getty Images File photo of Joes Crab Shack restaurant on the Daytona Beach pier in Daytona, Fla. on Nov. 2, 2015.

Pignato, a surfer and swimmer, believed she could save the boy but as she fell into shallow waves she hit a sand bar.

"I wasn't thinking about the sand bar," she said. "So I injured my back and broke my foot."

The fall from the pier hurt Piganto's back and broke her right foot in three places, said her mother, Heather Pignato.

"She had surgery on her foot this morning," she said Sunday. "I'm just glad she won't need surgery on her back."

Hanna Pignato, a waitress who works on the rooftop of Joe's Crab Shack, told Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue officers that she jumped into the water to save the child shortly before 8 p.m., Ocean Rescue Capt. Tammy Malphurs said.

"An 8-year-old boy was caught in a rip north of the pier," Malphurs said, adding that the child was saved and taken to the hospital as a precaution.

"We also got a report of a woman, who appeared to be a Joe's Crab Shack employee, lying on the beach by the pier," she said. "She advised us she jumped in to help save the boy."

She said the agency discourages the public from attempting to rescue people and advised that it's better to call 9-1-1.

"We believe her heart is in the right place but we do not encourage people to try and rescue people drowning," Malphurs said.

Hanna Pignato said she just couldn't stand by as she watched the child's mother "freaking out."

"I didn't want the baby to die," she said, donning on the cap of her grandfather, a retired Volusia County sheriff's deputy who died last month. "He wasn't a baby, he was 7 years old, 8 years old, but still I mean that's a human life you just can't look at that and walk away."

Heather Pignato, who lives close to the beach, heard the sirens and headed out to see what was happening, not expecting to hear they were there for her daughter.

"I texted her and she didn't answer," the mother said. "Then a friend from work called and said 'Don't worry Hanna is OK. A boy was drowning and she jumped in to save him.'"

Although her daughter was injured, she said she's proud of her because her intentions were good.

"She kept saying 'I'm sorry, don't be mad at me' and I said 'Hanna, you tried to save someone,'" Heather Pignato said.

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©2019 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

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