Florida rip currents kill 6 people in 2 days

Florida rip currents kill 6 people in 2 days

Panama City Beach, Florida. Image via Shutterstock/Mathew Risley.

By Crystal Harlan

June 24, 2024

“I​t’s just too dangerous to swim right now,” warned Bay County Sheriff’s Office after announcing double red flag warnings and closing Panama City Beach to swimmers on Sunday.

At least six people visiting Florida died in dangerous rip currents over the span of two days.

On Friday, June 21, three men went for a swim at Panama City Beach around 8 p.m. Shortly after entering the water, they got caught in a rip current and went missing. The U.S. Coast Guard launched a search effort, and the men were found separately and eventually pronounced dead at area hospitals, according to a Facebook post by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office identified the three men as Birmingham, Alabama, residents Harold Denzel Hunter, 25, Jemonda Ray, 24, and Marius Richardson, 24. 

Earlier this week, single red flags had been posted at the beach, indicating high-hazard surf and rip current conditions.

On Thursday, June 20, a couple from​ Pennsylvania died in a rip current while swimming on Hutchinson Island, a barrier island about an hour north of West Palm Beach. 

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims as Brian Warter, 51, and Erica Wishard, 48. They were on vacation with their six children, and were swimming in an area where red flags warned of the danger.

“While in the water, the couple and two of the teens got swept out by a rip current. The kids were able to break the current and attempt to help their parents, but it became too dangerous, and they were forced to swim ashore. Martin County Ocean Rescue located the victims and began CPR on shore. Those life-saving efforts continued in the ambulance and at the hospital where doctors gave it every last effort before declaring the couple deceased,” Martin County Sheriff’s Office said.

A​lso on Thursday, a 19-year-old visiting from Oklahoma drowned at Panama City Beach. Fire Chief Ray Morgan said the young man was swimming under single red flag conditions. P​anama City Rescue lifeguards pulled him out of the surf and started CPR but they were unable to save him.

“I​t’s just too dangerous to swim right now,” warned Bay County Sheriff’s Office after announcing double red flag warnings and closing Panama City Beach to swimmers on Sunday.

 

RELATED: These 10 Florida beaches are the most dangerous in the US

 

Author

  • Crystal Harlan

    Crystal is a bilingual editor and writer with over 20 years of experience in digital and print media. She is currently based in Florida, but has lived in small towns in the Midwest, Caracas, New York City, and Madrid, where she earned her MA in Spanish literature.

CATEGORIES: LOCAL NEWS
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