A sea of humanity rescues swimmers from riptide

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Beckton

Any story that contains the words “with everything going on in the world, we still have humanity,” will always find a home on NewsCut, which is why we’re applauding the beach-goers in Panama City Beach, Fla., who created a human chain to save a family that was being swept away by the riptide.

First, we acknowledge this is a bad idea that could have led to more people being sucked into the “river within an ocean.” But that’s not the point.

The point is they tried.

“They were screaming and crying that they were stuck,” Roberta Ursrey tells the Panama City News Herald about the moment she’d just left the water and turned around to see where her sons had gone. “People were saying, ‘Don’t go out there.’ ”

She, her husband, mother, and nephews swam out to rescue them. But then they got stuck in the riptide, too.

“It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going,’” she said, and it probably would’ve been except for humanity.

“These people are not drowning today,” Jessica Simmons told herself, according to the paper. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”

She grabbed a boogie board while her husband organized a human chain, about 80 people in all, some of whom couldn’t swim but anchored the shallow end.

“I got to the end, and I know I’m a really good swimmer,” Simmons said. “I practically lived in a pool. I knew I could get out there and get to them.”

What Simmons found at the end of the human chain, she said, was shocking. Ursrey’s mother was exhausted, her eyes were rolling back and Simmons remembered her “drinking so much water” and “telling us to just let her go and save us.”

Everyone was exhausted, the waves knocking them under. One by one, starting with the children, Simmons and her husband, along with a few other rescuers, towed the swimmers to the human chain, who then pulled them all to shore.

“It was the most remarkable thing to see,” Simmons said. “These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.”

Ursrey doesn’t remember being rescued, just waking up on shore after she passed out. Her mother, she said, ended up coding in the ambulance, but was was brought back to life and is still in the hospital. Her nephew had a broken hand, but otherwise everyone is recuperating after their ordeal.

“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,” Simmons said. “That was really inspiring to see that we still have that.

(h/t: Jennifer Ehrlich)