Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Beachgoers form human chain to rescue family in water

Published:Wednesday | July 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Florida (AP):

Strangers on a Florida beach formed an 80-person human chain to help rescue members of a family who had been caught in a riptide and pulled too far from shore, but emergency workers say they also helped bring distressed people to safety.

Panama City Beach Deputy Fire Rescue Chief Larry Couch said that when his rescuers arrived, two people were on the beach after being in distress in the water. They refused treatment. At the same time, people in the water were forming a human chain to help six others who were struggling in the water. Fire department rescuers later brought two of those people to shore, Couch said.

Roberta Ursrey and her family were enjoying the day at M.B. Miller County Pier on the Gulf of Mexico when she noticed that her sons were missing, the Panama City News Herald reported . She went looking for them and soon heard them screaming from the water that they were trapped by the current.

Others warned her not to go in the water, but Ursrey, her mother and five other family members swam to the boys' aid, but then found themselves also trapped in 15-feet of water.

Jessica Simmons, who had stopped with her husband at the beach for dinner, had just found a discarded boogie board when she saw people pointing at the water. She thought they were pointing at a shark, but when she realised the people were drowning, she jumped on the board and began swimming toward Ursrey's family.

"These people are not drowning today," Simmons remembers telling herself. "It's not happening. We are going to get them out."