World News

Strangers on a Florida Beach Form a Chain to Save Swimmers in Trouble

By  | 


Over the weekend at Panama City Beach, families were enjoying themselves playing in the sand and waves. Suddenly, Roberta Ursery noticed that her sons, ages 8 and 11, were much further out in the water than she expected, and they were calling for help. The young boys were caught in a rip current and were terrified that they couldn’t reach the shore.

The rest of the Ursery family (Roberta’s husband, nephew, and mother) took action and went after the kids, but like many people who attempt rip current rescues, they become stuck in the strong waters, as well. While in the water, Roberta’s mother had a heart attack. The family was in absolute peril.

The Today Show reports that life guards were off-duty at the time, and while police waited for a rescue boat, onlookers decided to take action. Strangers formed a human chain, holding hands while standing on the shore, all the way out to the distressed family. “Nearly 80 strangers on the beach sprung into action by forming a human chain stretching about 100 yards into the Gulf of Mexico to save the group of nine people caught in the rip current. It started with a few swimmers and grew into a massive effort as more and more beachgoers ran into the water to help,” Today describes.

The rescue effort worked! The entire family was pulled to shore through the chain of helpers. NBC News quotes Ursery as saying, “As a mama, I’m supposed to be able to protect [my children] and do everything, and I couldn’t do it that day. I had to have help, which I was eternally grateful for.” She recently started a GoFundMe page to help with her mom’s medical expenses.

Rip currents can be deadly. Start learning how to stay safe if you’re caught in one here.