A California group of family and friends were reportedly knocked down by an ocean wave while posing for a photo Feb. 26.
Earlier lifeguards had warned beachgoers at Goat Rock Beach to stay away from the wet sand, ABC News reports.
Despite these warnings, the group chose to take a photo with their backs turned facing the ocean hand-in-hand near the water’s edge.
Just moments after the scenic photo was taken, the group was dragged out into sea.
“I thought it was over,” Amanda Viola, who was taking the picture, told The Press Democrat. “I was going to lose my brother. I was going to lose my daughter, and I was going to die myself.”
The group included Viola’s boyfriend, Chris Wolfe, Wolfe's 10-year-old daughter Charity Wolfe, Viola’s 15-year-old brother Anthony Viola and her 7-year-old daughter Angeleek Viola.
Amanda said they did not expect such a massive wave to come their way.
“They were thinking it may come up to their feet,” Amanda said. “But it came all the way up to me and I was 10 feet away [behind them].”
The wave knocked down the group, and it pulled 7-year-old Angeleek out into the breakers.
Luckily lifeguard Aaron Pendergraft watched the incident unfold and quickly rushed to the rescue. He was able to save Angeleek.
"You have to start moving fast, you know, you're just going after the littlest one and the littlest one is going to have the hardest time," Pendergraft told ABC News.
"What's going through your mind is, I'm going to lose somebody today and knock on driftwood out here, we didn't," he added.
Although the child was terrified, she ended up being fine.
"When I got to her, her eyes were cinched shut and she was scared and in the fetal position. And I got my hand on her and I said, 'we're going to make it through this,'" the lifeguard -- who the family is now calling a hero -- said.
A rescue helicopter then intervened and lifted Angeleek up.
Pendergraft was hospitalized for hypothermia following the incident.
“Aaron was just amazing,” Amanda told The Press Democrat. “I can’t thank him enough because my daughter’s alive because of him.”