July 12, 2017

Understanding tides and currents will help you stay safe if you like to go swimming in the ocean. Learn how to identify safe waves to swim in and how to spot a rip current before entering the enticing water.

When Family is Swept Away by Riptide, Beachgoers Form Human Chain for Rescue

Dozens of beachgoers at Panama City Beach, Fla., form a human chain to rescue nine stranded swimmers swept away by a strong riptide on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: photo courtesy of Roberta Ursrey.

When Jessica and Derek Simmons first saw the beachgoers pausing to stare toward the water, the young couple just assumed someone had spotted a shark.

It was the evening of July 8, after all, peak summer season in Panama City Beach for overheated Florida tourists to cross paths with curious marine life. Then they noticed flashing lights by the boardwalk, a police truck on the sand and nearly a dozen bobbing heads about 100 yards beyond the beach, crying desperately for help.

Six members of a single family -- four adults and two young boys -- and four other swimmers had been swept away by a powerful and deceptive riptide churning below the water's surface.

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