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Human Chain Formed in Panama City Beach to Save Stranded Family

It was no ordinary day by the shores this past Saturday in Panama City Beach Florida. A family of nine became stranded offshore by the strong riptide, and subsequently rescued by a chain of 80 good samaritan bystanders.

Two young brothers were enjoying some fun in the sun, boogie boarding, like many others, along Florida’s beautiful coastline, when they became caught up in the riptide.

Brittany and Tabitha Monroe, nearby boogie boarders, made a failed attempt to rescue the boys, as they became stuck themselves. “We grabbed the kids and tried to start swimming in and it just kept pulling us back,” Brittany Monroe said. “The water was really strong on Saturday but where we were it wasn’t pulling us. When we got to where the kids were, that’s when we realized we were stuck.”

Back on shore, upon hearing her sons’ calls for help, Roberta Ursrey began making her way out to them, refusing to sit idly by and watch her children drown. Family members followed after her, but eventually everyone was overcome by the riptide.

All of this commotion caught the attention of two beachgoers, Derek Simmons, 26, and Jessica Simmons, 29, who decided to step in and help. “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. That’s the only thing I was thinking of, if we’re arm to arm, we can get them,” Mr. Simmons told ABC News.

The human chain consisted of five people at the beginning. People were initially scared of becoming stuck themselves, but eventually the chain began to grow in length, totalling 80 people at its maximum. Jessica Simmons swam out to the stranded family and friends on a boogie board, while Derek Simmons stayed behind in order to coordinate the line from the other end.

Everyone involved in this near-drowning accident made it back to shore safety, with 2 of the parties involved taken to the local hospital for additional treatment.



James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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