College Student on Spring Break Drowns While Trying to Rescue Child: 'He Was the Absolute Best'

Rachel DeSantis
·3 min read

Facebook Layne Gravois

A 21-year-old college student who friends said was selfless to the end died on spring break while trying to rescue a child from rough waters in Florida.

Layne Gravois, a junior electrical engineering student at Louisiana State University, died during a water rescue on Thursday in Miramar Beach, the Walton County Sheriff's Office said in a release.

His mother, Kristi Gros Gravois, said Layne and his friends were on vacation when they sprung into action to help save a child and were pulled in by rip currents, CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported.

"He only went in the water to try and save him. Amazing son, athlete – loved football, baseball. Loved fishing, traveling, being with friends and family," she told the outlet. "He was the absolute best and we were blessed with him."

Friend Dexter Troxclair said that Layne was part of a chain about 60 to 70 people long — and that things took a chaotic turn when the chain broke about 50 people down the line.

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"It was like a war zone. You just saw person after person getting pulled into the water," Troxclair told ABC affiliate WBRZ. "It was almost not real. I felt like I was looking at someone else. I just couldn't believe in my head that that was my friend laying on the ground."

The outlet reported that Layne was pulled from the water and transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Jordan Servat and Reed Boudreaux, both students at Nicholls State University, were also injured during the rescue, and were taken to the hospital, WWL-TV reported.

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"[He was] genuine," Troxclair told WBRZ. "And I know that sounds cliché, but what that means to me is that being genuine is being true to yourself, and what you believe, and on that day he believed that someone else's life was worth more than his."

The Walton County Sheriff's Office said that flags on the beach that day were at single red, which means that water poses "an incredible threat to human life" with high surf and strong rip currents.

"Know that just because we cannot keep you out of the Gulf during single red, does not mean you should be in it," the release said. "Mother nature can be very unforgiving."

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The sheriff's office said that another man, 55-year-old Kim McGrady, also died in a similar incident near Miramar Beach on Thursday.

McGrady, of Dunwoody, Georgia, was at the beach with his family when he drowned while saving three people from a rip tide, a GoFundMe page organized in his memory said.

"Kim was always one to put others before himself," the page read. "McGrady left this world a hero."