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Dennis Kane, left, with Adam Zboyovski, who rescued him from rough surf Friday in Corolla, N.C. [Kane family photo]

A Falls Church man releasing his daughter's ashes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina last week is alive today because Adam Zboyovski happened to be nearby.

Kerry Michelle Kane, who died unexpectedly on May 17, 2020 at 41 years old, spent her childhood first in Sterling, then in Kitty Hawk, N.C., where she graduated from Manteo High School. She always considered the Outer Banks home, said her sister, Shannon Kane Smith, who lives in Ashburn. The family planned the memorial for Kane’s birthday and spent the week in Corolla on the northern Outer Banks.

On Friday, about 40 family members gathered on the oceanfront, with many going into rough surf stirred up by distant Tropical Storm Ana to release a biodegradable urn containing Kane's ashes. 

Smith said her father, 71-year-old Dennis Kane, stayed out a few minutes after the others had come back in, but eventually made his way back to shore. Then he saw the urn hadn't sunk yet, as it was supposed to, so he went back into the water.

"All of the sudden it seemed to get super rough really fast," Smith said. The family realized Kane was in trouble and called 911. They also knew if they could find a surfboard, they might be able to go out and get him.

That's when Zboyovski, who works for a beach rental service, was driving by picking up chairs. The family approached him and asked if he had a surfboard. Zboyovski, who said he's "been known to catch a few waves," naturally had one nearby and rushed to get it.

"He was able to grab the surfboard and got to him in time," Smith said. "Honestly if he hadn't gotten there when he did, I don’t think my dad would have made it."

After getting Dennis Kane to shore, a family member who's a nurse rendered first aid and rescue workers took him to the hospital, where he stayed overnight and was treated for water in his lungs.

Zboyovski's friends will tell you he's rescued quite a few people from the rip currents and rough surf along the Outer Banks.

"I just happen to always have a board close by," he said. But this one was different.

"This one was tough because the ocean conditions were really bad and I couldn't read the ocean like on an average day. Also, the board had no wax at all on it so I was slipping off just paddling out," Zboyovski said. 

After Dennis Kane was released from the hospital Saturday evening, Zboyovski came by the family's rental house "so we could all thank him," Smith said.

"Not all heroes wear capes," Smith said in a Facebook post shared around Outer Banks pages and groups over the weekend. "Sometimes they have surfboards."

Kari Pugh is digital editor at InsideNoVa.com. Reach her at karipugh@insidenova.com

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