Robert Wudkevich, or Woody, is back home in Nelson, BC, after his vacation in Cuba turned into a rescue mission.

Woody was on a beach in Varadero, Cuba, when he was alerted to a father and son struggling in the water.

Yue Liu, 40, of Ottawa, and his 7-year-old son, Connor, had been playing in the water on Wednesday, when they were overtaken by a wave and pulled out to sea.

Unable to save them both, Woody grabbed the boy and carried him to shore. When he returned to the ocean, the current had carried Liu's body further out. When lifeguards arrived, and retrieved Liu’s body, he could not be resuscitated.

Woody is still struggling with the horror he faced in the ocean.

“(I’m) grateful I could save Connor,” he said, “just sad I couldn’t save his dad, that's the tough part.”

Now Ottawa’s Chinese community is rallying to support Liu’s family.