James Hodges Jr. was surfing off Huntington Beach on Saturday when a crushing wave shattered his leg.
The 14-year-old was in excruciating pain as he desperately tried to paddle into shore.
"I was screaming but there was no one in the water helping me," James told KTLA unable to hold back his tears.
But as hard as he struggled, Jamie was just too weak to make it.
"I was yelling 'help' and I saw him running toward me," James said choking back tears.
The man James saw was John Severini.
Severini ran into the water fully dressed, scooped James up into his arms and carried the boy to the lifeguard tower.
But in all the commotion, Severini had just vanished.
It wasn't until Wednesday that the Hodges family tracked down Severini so they could thank the man they call their son's guardian angel.