HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (CBS Local) — A vacationer was having the time of his life over the weekend when a creature suddenly emerged from the water, knocked him off his jet ski and sent him to the intensive care unit.

Levi Dixon was riding on a jet ski in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, when he was knocked off by what witnesses described as a ray, Bluffton Township Fire District spokesman Lee Levesque said.

Joanna Whipple and her boyfriend, Thomas McDaniel, watched it all happen.

Whipple told WJCL an animal about 4 feet in diameter that was “gray on top, white on the bottom with this weird face,” came out “like a rocket” and knocked Dixon off the jet ski.

McDaniel jumped into the water after the accident to help keep Dixon from drowning. They flagged down a pontoon boat, which then took Dixon to land.

Dixon suffered broken ribs, a concussion and injuries to his lungs, back and neck, according to his brother. He was spent two days in Savannah Memorial Hospital’s ICU and was released.

Authorities credit the quick response by Whipple and McDaniel for Dixon’s survival.

“With any medical emergency, time makes a big difference between life and death, too long without oxygen to the brain or even bleeding too much,” Levesque said. “The fact that somebody was able to get him quickly and bring him to the dock absolutely made the difference.”