Last week we talked about a human chain being formed to save a swimmer at Panama City Beach in Florida. Now we have the rest of the story. A group of beachgoers worked together to get everyone back to the shore safely and it all started when a young girl in the Gulf of Mexico started calling for help.
Witnesses say a woman was able to rescue that child, but a second woman followed the first woman out and then got stuck. Tourist Ryan Stelmachers says he took his raft out to save her, but the current was too strong to swim back in. His wife, Briana, was one of the 12 people who formed the human chain in the surf and were eventually able to pull everyone to safety, despite the rough waters.
While their mission was a success, officials warn forming human chains can be dangerous. “We’re happy that everybody made it out safe, … but it can go the other way and a single victim can turn into multiple victims or a mass casualty incident,” explains Wil Spivey, beach safety director for Panama City Beach Fire Rescue. “Even if you’re a good swimmer, you can get overpowered by the conditions or the victim if they climb on top of you.”