Florida beachgoers form 80-person human chain to rescue family in water

PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL (BY: KATIE METTLER, THE WASHINGTON POST) – When Jessica and Derek Simmons first saw the beachgoers pausing to stare toward the water, the young couple just assumed someone had spotted a shark.

It was Saturday evening, after all, peak summer season in Panama City Beach for overheated Florida tourists to cross paths with curious marine life. Then they noticed flashing lights by the boardwalk, a police truck on the sand and nearly a dozen bobbing heads about 100 yards beyond the beach, crying desperately for help.

Six members of a single family — four adults and two young boys — and four other swimmers had been swept away by a powerful and deceptive riptide churning below the water’s surface.

“These people are not drowning today,” Jessica Simmons thought, she told the Panama City News Herald. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”

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Photo Courtesy: The Washington Post

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