An amazing event took place this weekend when a family was caught in a potentially deadly rip current, which some are referring to as a riptide. A group of 70 to 80 strangers saved the lives of nine people by banding together in a human chain that stretched far out into the surf off the shore of Florida’s Panama City Beach.
The incident started with two young brothers who were swimming. The boys, 8 and 11, were getting dragged further away from the shoreline in a rip current. The mother of the boys saw her sons screaming and crying as they tried to swim back to shore to no avail. The current was too strong, and it was taking them toward the open ocean. As what most mothers would do, Roberta Ursrey jumped into the water in an attempt to save her sons. She was followed by other family members and a few bystanders, but they all quickly became victims of the rip current themselves.
When police arrived, there were nine people in real trouble out in the surf, and they were all being pulled further away from shore. One police officer jumped into the ocean water and started swimming towards the group, but he realized what he was up against and soon came back to shore. He was unable to reach the group due to the powerful rip current. The group in the ocean current was now bobbing in the surf and waving their arms for help as they drifted further from shore.
The police stood on the shore as a crowd gathered, and the officers assured the bystanders that a boat was coming. But with no boat in sight and the nine people drifting further out to sea, something very amazing happened. Bystanders started forming a human chain until there were dozens of people in this group partaking in an amazing rescue that stretched far off shore. The chain got longer and longer until there were about 70 to 80 people holding hands with their arms stretching out as they made their way toward the stranded group, reports CNN News.
At first, a few people joined hands, but the human chain organized flawlessly, with one bystander after another adding themselves to the chain making its way out to the nine people in trouble in the water. They used surfboards for the stranded family to hold onto once the chain stretched all the way out to them. One by one, all nine people were brought to shore, shaken, but unharmed. This incredible feat was accomplished by this chain made of strangers, all banding together for one urgent cause.
An 80-person human chain of strangers saved a drowning family of 9 caught more than 100 yards out in a rip current. https://t.co/J7xfK4qq28
— wideofthepost (@wideofthepost) July 11, 2017
Once the nine people were safely back on the sand, the group broke into cheers and applause for themselves after realizing what they had just accomplished. All the swimmers were saved in what could have been a huge tragedy if these group of strangers had done nothing but watch helplessly from the shore. You can watch the video below for more pictures of this human chain lifesaving event.
Jessica Simmons was a bystander on the beach with other onlookers who were all feeling helpless as the group in the water had no immediate help in sight. She was one of the people who joined the human chain. The group stuck out in the current consisted of Ursrey, her two young sons, and Ursrey’s mother, who was the grandmother of the bunch treading water waiting for help. Along with Ursrey family members, a few bystanders were also stranded, and they too became victims of the ocean’s fury in this rip current when swimming out attempting to save the Ursrey family. Nine people needed saving in all, two of which were the young brothers who were the first to get stranded.
When caught in a rip current, the experts from the United States Lifesaving Association say to swim, float, or tread water in a line parallel to the shoreline. While this won’t bring you closer to shore, it will get you out of the rip current somewhere down the line. At that time, you will be able to swim back to shore.
If for some reason this can’t be done, face the shore and signal for help, waving your arms and screaming for help, which is what the young Ursrey brothers did. This got the attention of people on shore and help did come in a rather amazing way, according to the news reports.
[Featured Image by David Adame/AP Images]