Mystery surfer who saved deer in Belmar surf identified as Belmar lifeguard

News 12 New Jersey first reported about the incident after photographer Adrienne Tully took pictures and video of the rescue.

Naomi Yané

Oct 4, 2023, 12:33 AM

Updated 294 days ago

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Thomas Buckley or “Buck” as he’s affectionately known woke up a local hero and a celebrity Tuesday morning after his family and friends saw the story about him saving a deer from drowning.
His friend and fellow lifeguard Chris Keane said the group was abuzz all morning.
"A bunch of our buddies, neighbors sent it to a group text. It was like, ‘Surfer saves deer’ and we’re like that’s pretty crazy and then we see the picture. We zoom in we’re like 'Oh, it's Buck!'" Keane says.
Thomas Buckley is that mystery surfer who got that deer to safety after it got caught up in the rough surf in Belmar on Sunday morning. He said on Tuesday that he almost didn't surf that morning.
"I didn’t even plan on going surfing. I just got up. As soon as I woke up around 6:30 a.m. and was like you’re going to go surfing today,” Buckley says.
When Buckley got to the scene, he said he heard someone yell, ‘Deer!’ and when he looked out into the ocean there was a buck fighting to stay afloat. He says that’s when he paddled towards the animal.
"It got washed off the jetty. I decided I should probably help it now 'cause I saw it taking on some water it was blowing water out of its nose, and it looked like it was going to go under if I didn’t do something,” Buckley says.
The 45-minute rescue was caught on camera by Belmar resident Adrienne. Buckley’s friends say it's no shock he was the mystery surfer.
"None of us were that surprised when we heard it was him...He’s always first into the action and everything. He’s on the water rescue team so it’s 24-7 for him,” says Keane.
Buckley has been surfing since he was 18 and during the summers, he is a lifeguard in Belmar. He says he’s familiar with the water but never thought he’d have to save a deer.


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