Around 80 sunbathers jumped to the rescue to save a group of swimmers at Panama Beach, Florida. They linked arms, altogether stretching nearly 100 yards, to save the group caught in a treacherous riptide. Thanks to the plucky beach-goers, there wasn’t a single fatality.
Many of the members of the chain couldn’t even swim but showed true bravery and ingenuity by preventing the people getting swept away.
Jessica Simmons, who was on holiday from Alabama, spotted people pointing at the water. She assumed it was sharks or jellyfish but then she saw the swimmers in danger.
Jessica grabbed a discarded boogie board and paddled towards them. Her husband followed suit while others joined in to form the chain. People who couldn’t swim stayed in the shallow water, while more experienced swimmers went out further. The chain grew quickly and eventually was comprised of about 80 helpers.
“It was a wave of humanity that brings some things back into focus, that maybe we haven’t lost all hope in this world,” her husband, Derek Simmons told The Guardian.
“We walked down to see what was going on, and I asked the guy furthest out if everything was OK. He said: ‘No, those people out there are drowning, I can’t get to them because the current’s too strong.”
At first, he said, people appeared reluctant, fearing they would get caught in the same riptide. “We were yelling at the beach, we need more people,” he said
The rescuers first saved the children by passing them up towards the end of the chain then they saved all the adults. Altogether, they spent about an hour in the water until everyone was saved.
However, one of the rescued people, a 67-year-old grandmother, suffered a heart-attack when she was caught in the riptide. She is currently recovering in a hospital in Florida. The family started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay her medical expenses.
Panama Beach lifeguards say they had put up yellow flags as a caution but, unfortunately, not everyone on the beach understood its significance.
“It’s so cool to see how we have our own lives and we’re constantly at a fast pace, but when somebody needs help, everybody drops everything and helps,” Jessica told Panama City News Herald.
“With everything going on in the world, we still have humanity.”