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Eighty people saved a family from drowning at the Panama City Beach in Florida, USA, by forming a linear human chain.
Two boys aged 8 and 11 were stranded in a riptide—a strong current that flows away from the shore. They were pulled around 90 meters from the shore. Roberta Ursrey, the mother of the children, saw that her sons were drowning. She, along with other family members, came to the boys’ rescue. However, they were also caught in the riptide.
The family members started waving their hands while screaming for help. Jessica Simmons, a beachgoer, swam to save them using a surfboard upon hearing the family’s plea for help. While Simmons rushed toward the family, her husband and the other beachgoers initiated a human chain, which involved pulling each family member safely to the shore using surfboards.
Although the boys’ grandmother suffered a heart attack during the incident, her condition has stabilized.
This near-death incident is just one of the many cases showing the dangers of being caught in a riptide. According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), the number of riptide-related deaths in the country each year is over 100.
To prevent fatalities caused by riptides, USLA is currently working on a campaign with several organizations to raise awareness of the dangers of riptides. The organization asserts that aside from being aware of the risks, the best safety precaution is ensuring the presence of security personnel such as lifeguards when at the beach.