Strangers form ‘human chain’ to save drowning family
Posted July 11
Updated July 12
Roberta Ursrey and her family were intending to have a nice day at the beach, but a rip current changed all of that. According to the Panama City News Herald, Ursrey along with her husband, mother, nephews and sons were swimming near the M.B. Miller County Pier on Panama City Beach on July 8.
Everything seemed fine, but when Ursrey left the water to come to the shore, she realized her sons seemed to be in distress. She turned to walk back down to the water, and that’s when she heard their screams.
“They were screaming and crying that they were stuck," Ursrey recalled in an interview with the publication. "People were saying, 'Don't go out there.'”
Ursrey and her family decided to swim out to the boys to try and help. But the rip current was so strong that it trapped the rest of the family, too.
“I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day,” Ursrey told the Panama City News Herald. "It was like, 'Oh God, this is how I'm going.'”
Family rescued from drowning https://t.co/MKoQLfgaEw
- The News Herald (@The_News_Herald) July 10, 2017
Fortunately, some good Samaritans on the shore formed a human chain to save the family from drowning. Stranger Jessica Simmons and her husband were on the beach at the same time and noticed the family was in danger and decided to do something about it.
“I automatically thought they had seen a shark," Simmons told the Panama City News Herald. “I ran back to shore and my husband ran over to them. … That's when I knew someone was drowning.”
Simmons began to swim out to them while her husband and a few others began to form a chain from the shore. The chain eventually included 80 people. One by one, the drowning family members were pulled to the shore by the people in the human chain.
According to Ursrey, the family is fine and is recuperating after the ordeal. Her mother suffered a heart attack during the event and coded in the ambulance. She was resuscitated and is recovering in the hospital.
“I am so grateful," Ursrey told the Panama City News Herald. “These people were God's angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family's life to them. Without them, we wouldn't be here.”
Simmons will surely never forget the event, either.
“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,” she told the publication. “That was really inspiring to see that we still have that.”
According to the National Weather Service, the best thing you can do if you’re stuck in a rip current is to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore instead of trying to fight against it. Watch the video below for more rip current safety tips: