This dramatic beach rescue proves that anyone can be hero.
Over 80 pedestrians on the Panama City Beach in Florida formed a human chain to save a family of nine from a dangerous riptide.
Several of the other Ursrey family members attempted to rescue the struggling swimmers, and they became trapped as well.
One nearby surfer was able to tow one of the women to shore by using his surfboard, but there were still nine others in need of rescue: six of the Ursreys, an unnamed married couple, and another female tourist.
There was no lifeguard on duty, and police had opted to wait for a rescue boat – but the situation was getting more dire by the second. The riptide victims had already been struggling to keep their heads above water for twenty minutes, and they were exhausted.
Beach goers started yelling at the crowd of onlookers to form a human chain. Dozens of people – several of which reportedly said they couldn’t even swim themselves – linked arms and marched into the ocean. Among the onlookers was Jessica Mae Simmons, whose husband told the crowd to form a chain.
“To see people from different races and genders come into action to help TOTAL strangers is absolutely amazing to see!!” wrote Simmons. “People who didn’t even know each other went HAND IN HAND IN A LINE, into the water to try and reach them.”
As she watched the 80-person chain stretch towards the swimmers, she knew that she could help.
“I have always been a GREAT swimmer,” Simmons wrote on Facebook. “I was raised in a pool and a lake since I was crawling, so water was no hard task for me. I can hold my breathe underwater and go around a Olympic pool with ease! I knew I could get them to the human chain of people that wanted to help.”
Simmons and her husband then grabbed boogie boards and swam down the chain until she reached the swimmers. First, they helped the two young boys reach the human chain. Then, they went back for Roberta, who was just starting to black out by the time she was rescued. Next, they rescued Roberta’s mother who had begun to have a heart attack while in the water.
Even though the grandmother reportedly yelled for the rescuers to “save themselves”, Roberta’s nephew and husband supported her in the water until help returned.
Finally, after everyone was brought back to the beach, the crowd began to cheer.
Roberta and her mother were taken to the hospital where they were treated for their injuries. They have since been deemed stable and relatively healthy.
Jessica says that while she was hailed as a hero and thanked by everyone in the family, she credits the rescue to everyone else on the beach.
“I was calm because I KNEW they was coming out alive. I knew how to get out of a rip tide and I knew I could swim for long periods of time. But what really got me was how a entire BEACH jumped into action to save these people. People who COULDN’T even swim was part of that human chain. They wanted to help that bad.”
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Reprint (Photo by Roberta Ursrey)