Beachgoers form human chain in heroic bid to save stranded swimmers

Dozens of people held hands and formed a human chain in a bid to save two swimmers left stranded in strong waves off the coast of Florida.

Brave onlookers ignored the double red flags positioned along Panama City Beach once they caught sight of the man and woman, who were caught out some 30 yards into the Gulf of Mexico.

The pair had struggled to return to shore due to a fierce current caused by Tropical Storm Barry, which brought heavy rain and powerful winds to Louisiana when it first made landfall last week.

Rip currents had formed due to Tropical Storm Barry. Pic: Brian Daniels via Storyful
Image: Rip currents had formed due to Tropical Storm Barry. Pic: Brian Daniels via Storyful

According to The Washington Post, the beachgoers – helped by a police officer – managed to keep their chain together for about 10 minutes despite the perilous conditions, which eventually forced them back to land.

Rescuers took over the operation and managed to reach the swimmers, but – despite their efforts proving futile – those involved in the human chain have been praised for their attempted heroics.

One witness, Brian Daniels, told the Post: “A lot of times when you have situations like that, people just stand there and look like deer in headlights. But these people were really brave, and they were very driven to help other people.

“They didn’t even know them, and they were out there risking their lives.”

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Panama City Beach Fire Rescue also said those who joined hands – thought to be more than 30 people – had helped the cause, with their “nonstop calls for rescue” having helped bring the situation to their attention.

But the crew said they should not make a habit of ignoring double red flags, which are designed to prohibit people from entering the water.

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Conditions off the beach have calmed somewhat since the incident on Sunday morning, but rip currents like the one the man and woman were caught up in remain possible.

Rip currents are very narrow movements of water but can be extremely powerful, capable of cutting through waves away from the shore like a river running out to sea.

Source: SKY NEWS

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