‘Screaming’ family saved from drowning after beach goers form 80-strong human chain in bid to rescue them
Even non-swimmers stood in the shallows in a group effort to drag the struggling swimmers back to shore
BY KARA O’NEILL
A family were saved from drowning after brave beach goers noticed them in trouble and formed a human chain in a desperate bid to rescue them.
Roberta Ursrey was relaxing and swimming with her family in the water close to the MB Miller County Pier at Panama City Beach in Florida.
Feeling unwell, Roberta made her way out of the water, but when she looked back out to sea, she noticed her family struggling to hold their heads above the current.
It was then that she heard her family screaming.
She said: “They were screaming and crying that they were stuck. People were saying ‘don’t go out there’.”
But Roberta refused to let her family drown and swam back out to them, immediately getting swept up in the current herself.
It was at this point that other beach goers noticed the family struggling and sprung into action, creating a human chain out into the water to reach the swimmers.
According to the NWF Daily News , 80 people stretched out over 100 yards to create the chain.
Even non-swimmers were determined to help, standing in the shallows, while others stood in water up to their necks, with the dramatic moment being captured on video and broadcast by US news channel WJHG.com.
Jessica Simmons, who had spotted the family in trouble while relaxing on the beach with her husband, then worked her way to the end of the chain in a bid to rescue the family.
She told the newspaper: “I got to the end. I practically lived in a pool. I knew I could get out there and get them.”
Jessica said she recalled thinking to herself: “These people are not dying today.”
Jessica and her husband then dragged the struggling swimmers, starting with the children, towards the end of the chain, and let the rest of the rescuers pass each member of the family back to shore.
Roberta recalls: “I honestly thought I was going to lose my family. It was like ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going.”
Shockingly, Roberta’s mother had almost died while struggling for breath in the water after suffering a heart attack.
And Jessica said she knew immediately that something was severely wrong when she reached the end of the human chain to rescue the family.
She described Roberta’s mother as ‘exhausted’, adding that her ‘eyes were rolling back in her head, telling the rescuers to save the rest of the swimmers and ‘let her go’.
Writing later on her Go Fund Me page, Roberta added: “While out there, my mum had a massive heart attack and actually died on us for a few minutes.
After arriving at hospital, Roberta revealed that her mum was ‘unconscious for a while’ and while she is now awake, she is still suffering heart and stomach problems, along with pnuemonia.
The family, who say they have little income, have set up a fundraising page in a bid to raise money for Roberta’s mother’s treatment as she continues to recover in hospital.
When she is discharged, she will need physiotherapy and other adaptations made to the family home.
The family are hoping to raise a total of $10,000 (£7,785).