A group of quick-thinking beach-goers in Florida jumped into action when they formed an 80-person human chain to rescue a family that was swept out into the ocean by a riptide. 34 year old Roberta Ursrey had just left the water when she noticed her two sons, eight year old Stephen and his eleven year old brother, Noah, were too far from shore. When she heard their screams, Ursrey began yelling for help. Speaking to the Panama City News Herald, Ursrey said, “They were screaming and crying that they were stuck. People were saying ‘Don’t go out there.”‘
Roberta’s husband 31 year old Bryan, her 67 year old mother, Barbara Franz and nephews immediately swam out to get them but found the current strong, leaving nine people stranded in about 15 feet of water.
“I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day. ‘It was like, “Oh God, this is how I’m going.”‘ Ursrey said. And if it wasn’t for fast-acting Jessica Simmons and her husband, the Ursrey family probably would’ve drowned. Once Simmons realized the family had been swept out too far, she grabbed a boogie board and paddled toward them as her husband and a few other men started the human chain to bring the swimmers back to shore, according to the Herald.
“These people are not drowning today,” Simmons told the newspaper. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.” She recalled telling herself. Once people began forming the chain, it eventually reached about 100 yards into the ocean. Simmons said some of the beach-goers couldn’t swim but wanted to help anyway.
By the time Simmons got to the distressed swimmers, Ursrey’s mother was exhausted, and her eyes were rolling back. Ursrey’s children, Stephen and his older brother, Noah, were rescued first. The whole family was rescued by the heroic beach-goers, but some of them suffered injuries. Ursrey passed out as she was being saved and her mother, Franz suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was rushed to the hospital, where she is still recovering. Her nephew, Justin, 27, also broke his hand in the traumatic ordeal.
Speaking to the Herald, Ursrey said, “I am so grateful.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.”