It was an incredible display of humanity as dozens of complete strangers formed a human chain on a Panama City Beach to rescue nine swimmers who were drowning.
Roberta Ursrey and her husband, mother, sons, and nephews were enjoying the sun on the beach when she turned around to look for her sons and they were nowhere to be found. Ursrey then heard screams and realized her children were stuck in the water, while people yelled at her not to go out there in the dangerous waters.
There was no way Ursrey was going to let her children drown, but once she and her family swam out to get the kids, the rip current pulled them in as well. At that point, nine family members, including Ursrey and her mother were stuck in about 15 feet of water. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day,” Ursrey said. “It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going.’ ”
A beachgoer named Jessica Simmons saw what was going on and being that she isn’t the type of person to stand by and watch someone in distress, she grabbed a boogie board and swam towards the family. Her husband and a few other men followed her, and they created the human chain. As Simmons paddled, the human chain grew, totaling about 80 people and stretching over 100 yards out to the distressed swimmers. Some of them couldn’t swim, others stood up in the water up to their necks, but all in all, every single person was determined to save this family.
One by one, starting with the children, Simmons, her husband, and a few other rescuers pulled the family to shore. “It was the most remarkable thing to see,” Simmons said. “These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.” Roselind Beckton, who was on the beach that day, took photos while dozens of people created the human chain near the county pier.
Ursrey’s mother is still in the hospital, and her nephew suffered a broken hand, but otherwise, everyone is recuperating after the ordeal. “I am so grateful,” Ursrey told nwfdailynews.com. “These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
If this story touched your heart, please SHARE it with your friends and family on Facebook!
[Featured Image Credit: WJHG-TV]