3 swimmers die despite rescue efforts while visiting Florida beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP/Gray News) – Three swimmers died after a distress call in Panama City Beach, Florida, Friday night.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce all three young men who entered the water around 8 p.m. today and became distressed have passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families,” Sheriff Tommy Ford said. “I want to thank Bay County Emergency Service, the FWC, and the Coast Guard for their help in the rescue efforts.”

The three young men, all from Alabama, arrived in Panama City Beach Friday afternoon and soon after went swimming. They were reported missing, having been last seen behind Watercress Condominiums at 6201 Thomas Drive between the first and second sand bar near Schooners restaurant.

Coast Guard searched for three swimmers in the Gulf behind Schooners in Panama City Beach, Florida.

The men were found separately and eventually pronounced dead at local hospitals, the Associated Press reported.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office identified the men as Harold Denzel Hunter, 25, Jemonda Ray, 24, and Marius Richardson, 24.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City responded to the call for help. Bay County Sheriff’s Officials, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Bay County Fire also assisted in the search.

Single red flags had been posted at the beach, indicating hazardous water conditions, earlier this week.

Because of the hazardous water conditions, summer has gotten off to a deadly start in Florida.

These deaths come a day after a drowning in the Gulf at Panama City Beach, WJHG reported.

Panama City Beach Fire Chief Ray Morgan said the 19-year-old Oklahoma man was swimming during a single red flag advisory behind Sharky’s when he was caught in a rip current.

Officials said the man was pulled out of the water by beach safety lifeguards and given CPR on-site by first responders before being taken to Bay Medical in critical condition.

He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, city officials said.

Elsewhere in Florida, off the coast of Hutchinson Island in Martin County, a Pennsylvania couple drowned Thursday after being caught in a rip current. They were vacationing with their six children.

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