Swimmers Defy Red Flags On Panhandle Beaches

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Deputies and other first responders are asking beachgoers to stay out of the water when red warning flags are posted.

Double red flags were posted Monday along the Florida Panhandle's beaches but that didn't stop people from swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Deputies responded to 42 water calls and two distressed swimmer calls on Monday.

Bay County Sheriff's Maj. Tommy Ford says swimming when red flags are flying is a violation of a county ordinance and can lead to arrest. He says deputies won't hesitate to make arrests.

The News Herald of Panama City reports Deputy Tim Justice was hospitalized with water in his lungs Monday after rescuing a swimmer who got into trouble in the rough water. The man he rescued remained in the hospital late Monday.

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Two men died after one was caught in a rip current off a Florida Panhandle beach and another man tried to save the first.

The South Walton Fire Department reports that rescuers responded Sunday evening to Santa Rosa Beach.

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that witnesses had called lifeguards because 44-year-old Annazar Nazarov, of Memphis, Tenn., was 75 yards off shore and 48-year-old William Haithcox, of Spartenburg, S.C., went into the water to help.

Three lifeguards went after the men and eventually pulled them to shore. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were both pronounced dead.

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