Rescuers honored for forming human chain to save swimmers

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
July 12, 2017

Courtesy: Yasmin Trabal / WJHG

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WCTV) – Cellphone video showing beach-goers in Panama City forming a human chain to pull two children and their parents out of a dangerous rip current is garnering national attention.

Lawmakers are commending the citizens for springing into action during the frightening ordeal on Saturday.

North Florida Congressman Neal Dunn shared the inspiring story Wedensday with colleagues on the floor of the U.S. Capitol.

Dunn thanked the more than 80 people involved in the rescue for their bravery, calling it “a testament to the generosity of the human spirit.”

By: Byron Khalil | WJHG-WECP
July 11, 2017

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG-WECP) -- A day at Panama City Beach almost turned tragic for Roberta Ursery and her family on Saturday.

"I seen my husband, my mama, my oldest daughter, and my youngest daughter and my nephew, but I ain't seen my boys," Ursrey said.

When she finally saw her 8 and 11-year-old boys, they were far out in the water. She later realized they were caught in a rip current.

"They were screaming and crying that they were stuck and they couldn't go no where," Ursrey explained.

In a state of panic, Ursrey and most of her family ran into the water to rescue her children, but the current proved too much.

"We all ended up being stuck in it," Ursrey said.

While in the water struggling to stay afloat, Ursrey said that's when something amazing happened: a selfless act performed by strangers that she said helped save her life.

People on the beach locked arms and formed a human chain to reach Ursrey and the others caught in the rip current.

"We got caught in the current and well our mom had to go in after me and my brother and the people made a human chain and pulled us out," 8-year-old Stephen Usrey said.

Jessica Simmons was one of the people who helped the family get out of the water. She said the idea for a human chain came about as people were trying to figure out how to reach the family.

"It went from like five people to about 70 people at the end. It lasted well over an hour," Simmons said.

"At the very end we all started clapping and cheering because they were so happy over the fact that we accomplished it," Simmons explained.

It was a chain of events that ultimately left Ursery feeling thankful.
"Cause as a mama I'm supposed to be able to protect them and do everything and I couldn't do it that day," Ursery said, "I had to have help which I was eternally grateful for that."

As for Stephen Ursery, he says he just wants the chance to pay it forward one day.

Ursrey said the flags were yellow at the time of the ordeal. She said her mother, who also tried to help in the rescue, suffered a heart attack and is still recovering in the hospital.

To visit the GoFundMe page set up to cover medical expenses for Ursrey's mom, click here.

Read the original version of this article, here.

By: Chris Best | WKRG News
July 10, 2017

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) -- An amazing display of humanity, courage and life-saving teamwork unfolded on a Northwest Florida Beach.

The incredible moment was also caught on camera.

Dozens of complete strangers formed a human chain on Panama City Beach to rescue eight swimmers in distress.

Rosalind Beckton took photos of more than 40 people creating the human chain near the county pier to pull in the swimmers.

Witnesses say it started when two children on a boogie board needed help swimming in.

When adults and teens went in after them, they became stranded as well. Panama City Bach police say this is a reminder of how dangerous the Gulf can be.

Two people were transported to Bay Medical Center for treatment after they were rescued.

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