It’s not every day that you’ll see a heart-warming story like this one coming from Florida, but in early July, a group of ordinary beach-goers rescued a group of people who were caught in a deadly rip current off the coast of Panama City Beach.
A group of nine—two young boys and a group of adults—were caught in the rip current and couldn’t get back to shore. That’s when Derek and Jessica Simmons came up with the idea to create a chain and pull the swimmers back to safety.
“The only thing that popped into my mind was if you’ve ever watched ants, when one of their babies is in trouble and can’t move, they start making a chain in order to pass them down the line to get them to safety,” said Derek Simmons, who lives in Panama City, Fl. “That’s the only thing I was thinking of… if we’re arm to arm, we can get them.”
It started when two young boys were caught in the current on their boogie boards. Brittany Monroe and another adult swam out to help, then became caught in the current as well. The boys’ mother also swam out, as did their grandmother and uncle. None of them could swim back to shore, which was about 70 yards away—and that’s when Simmons and his wife took action.
The chain of people grew until about 40 strangers were involved, standing hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm and passing the exhausted swimmers to the next person until they were all on solid ground.
Monroe was treated at a local hospital for having water in her lungs, and then released to her relatives to recover at home.
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