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At least 6 out-of-staters killed in Florida as dangerous rip current threats persist

todayJune 22, 2024 2

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – Over a span of two days, rough surf along both of Florida’s coasts claimed the lives of at least six people as authorities warned that hazardous beach conditions would likely persist.Fatalities were reported along Hutchinson Island, on Florida’s Treasure Coast, and along Panama City Beach, located in the Florida Panhandle. The threat of rip currents was deemed high in both regions due to adverse weather conditions, which included rough surf and strong gusty winds affecting most of the Southeast and Gulf coasts.All of the beachgoers were from out-of-state, which is a common thread among coastal drownings in the Sunshine State. The first fatality happened on Thursday afternoon when a teen from Oklahoma ventured into the rough Gulf of Mexico, according to the Panama City Beach Fire Department.Lifeguards attempted to perform lifesaving procedures on the man after rescuing him from the surf, but he eventually succumbed to his injures.PARENTS DROWN IN FLORIDA BEACH RIP CURRENTS WHILE VACATIONING WITH 6 CHILDRENIt was a similar scene about 300 miles away along Martin County’s Hutchison Island, where a Pennsylvania family was swept out into the Atlantic by a rip current.The Martin County Sheriff’s Office reported the couple’s two children were able to make it back to shore without the help of rescuers, but their parents were found unconscious and rushed to a local hospital.Deputies said both the 51-year-old father and the 48-year-old mother were later pronounced deceased.And on Friday, a group of men who were between the ages of 24 and 25 vanished in the rough surf, triggering a multi-agency search in Bay County, around Panama City Beach.The Bay County Sheriff’s Office made the announcement on Saturday that said all of the victims had been located but had passed away from their injuries.”I’m praying for their family and ask that you do the same. It is such a tragedy.  I witnessed so many people, including visitors to our community, come together last night on the beach to desperately search for them,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said in a statement.In 2023, more than 30 people were reported to have died after encountering rip currents along the Sunshine State, with more than half in the Panhandle.Following a period of nearly a dozen deaths in two weeks along Panhandle beaches, Ford posted a viral rant last summer about visitors’ apparent lack of personal responsibility due to their excursions into waters that were considered to be too rough.Rip currents are the number one weather-related killer in Florida. These hidden threats form when waves break near the shoreline, causing water to pile up and create a narrow, fast-flowing stream that swiftly carries swimmers away from shore, catching them off guard. The National Weather Service always advises beachgoers to swim near lifeguards and remain alert to ocean conditions. If caught in a rip current, it is advised not to swim against the outgoing force of water. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline until out of the current, then head safely back towards land.FLORIDA’S BIGGEST WEATHER-RELATED KILLER LURKS ALONG BEACHESThe risk of rip currents was expected to remain elevated into the workweek as an onshore flow continues along many of the state’s coastal communities.Many beaches were flying either a red or yellow flag, warning of the hazardous surf conditions and strong currents.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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