At least eighty heroic beachgoers in Florida worked together to form a human chain into the Gulf of Mexico to save a group of endangered swimmers who were caught in a riptide.
Nine people, six from the same family, including a grandmother who suffered a heart attack during the incident, were passed down the chain and to safety at Panama City beach.
“It was a wave of humanity that brings some things back into focus, that maybe we haven’t lost all hope in this world,” said Derek Simmons, the Alabama native whose quick-thinking led to the chain, in an interview with the Guardian.
Simmons had been enjoying a family picnic when they noticed people pointing into the water.
“We thought it was a shark; we have a ton of those,” said Simmons, who had moved to Panama City from Alabama last year.
“We walked down to see what was going on and I asked the guy furthest out if everything was OK. He said: ‘No, those people out there are drowning, I can’t get to them because the current’s too strong.’
“I said to the guy: ‘Let’s try to get as many people as we can to form a human chain.’ If you know about ants, you know when one’s in trouble they form a chain to help it. My theory was, let’s get enough people, we’ll get out there and pull them in and everybody can finish having a good rest of the evening.”
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