Strangers form human chain to rescue swimmers on Panama City Beach

12 July, 2017, 00:12 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • The human chain that saved a family stuck in a riptide

"A lot of people were like, 'There's no way we're getting in the water, we're going to get swept out, ' but I guess they just swallowed the pride pill and they just got in", Simmons said of watching the chain of strangers grow.

Simmons' husband and other men then began forming a human chain to rescue those who were trapped out in the rip current. Simmons told AP it was at that point that she jumped on a boogie board and began swimming towards Ursrey's family.

By then, Ursrey and the other eight people stranded with her had already been in the water for almost 20 minutes, fighting for their lives.

"They were screaming and crying that they were stuck", said Ursrey.

That's when the couple started a human chain in an attempt to reach the family and pull them to safety.

"I am so grateful", Ursrey told the News Herald. One by one, each of the swimmers who was caught in the tide was back safely on shore thanks to that chain.

Ms Simmons described a distressing scene in the water, including finding the family's grandmother was nearly unconscious as she was hauled back to shore.

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Everyone else in her family had only minor injuries and is doing OK. She remembers telling rescuers to "save themselves" as she blacked out. Simmons and her husband, Derek, eventually swam past approximately 80 people to hook the youngest boys and pass them into the human chain, which relayed them back to the shore.

"I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day", she told the Panama City News Herald.

Ursrey passed out as she was being saved and her mother, Franz suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was rushed to the hospital, where she is still recovering.

"It was beachgoers and the grace of God's will", Ursrey said. "We went into panic mode". Monroe was later released after being treated for a panic attack and Franz remains hospitalized, her daughter said.

Jessica Simmons said the drowning victims were asking for a flotation device and there were people standing on the beach.

Several people who shared photos on Facebook questioned why Panama City Beach Police Officers didn't go into the water to help when they arrived.

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