When Panama City Beach visitors spotted a family stuck in a scary rip current, they quite literally came together to help them. And in doing so, they may have prevented a horrific tragedy.
Nine beachgoers, including two kids and one elderly person, got trapped in the current on July 8. They immediately began yelling and waving their arms, hoping to get attention of people on the shore. And thankfully, many of those folks were quick thinkers.
"I saw a group of people, a few at first, and then more and more, start forming a human chain," said witness Rosalind Beckton.
Before long, this "human chain" grew to about 70 or 80 people, all holding hands and stretching out until they finally were able to help the family in distress. Because of these strangers reaching out one by one, every single swimmer was able to escape the water safely.
Jessica Simmons, who was one of the bystanders who helped create the human chain, said the rescuers used boogie boards and surfboards to help the family get back to the shore.
"At the very end, we all started clapping and cheering because they were so happy over the fact that we accomplished it," Simmons said.
Roberta Ursrey, the mom of two young sons who were among the trapped family members, was so happy that the people on the beach were willing to help her family in their time of need.
"As a mama, I'm supposed to be able to protect them and do everything, and I couldn't do it that day," Ursrey said. "I had to have help, which I was eternally grateful for that."
We are, too! What a beautiful reminder that a little reaching out makes a big difference.