It was a sunny, pleasant day on Panama City beach, Florida, when two bathers looked toward the horizon. They realized something was moving in the water. «It must be a shark,» thought Jessica Simmons. But as she walked closer to the shore and heard frightened screams she understood what was really happening: someone was drowning.
Fifteen minutes earlier, Roberta Ursey and her husband, nephew and mom had jumped into the water, swimming against the dangerously strong current. The reason: to rescue Roberta’s two sons. The boys had swam into the ocean but were unable to swim back and now they were drowning. The waves also proved too strong for the would-be rescuers and, suddenly, the whole family was facing a terrible death.
Not only was the family of six trapped and unable to get out of the water, two other couples swimming nearby were also drowning. There were no lifeguards on duty that day and police officers present on the scene could only look on from the shore as the swimmers fought for their lives.
Also looking on, Jessia said to herself: «These people will not die today. It will not happen. We’ll get them out.» Jessica had always been a good swimmer. She picked up a bodyboard and fearlessly braved the water. When others on the beach saw what she was doing they had a brilliant idea: they joined hands to make a human chain long enough to reach the victims.
Soon, over 80 people were helping, walking further and further in. Some soon had water up to their necks, others could no longer reach the ground with their feet, but they all knew the chain of hands would keep them safe. At the end of the chain, Jessica started to pull the boys and their family back to safety.
When she came to the grandmother, Jessica quickly realised something was wrong. She had swallowed a lot of water, her eyes were rolling back and she barely had any strength left. She asked Jessica to leave her there and rescue the others. On hearing such selfless words, Jessica told her to stay strong, she would save her. The elderly woman eventually suffered a heart attack due to the stress, but Jessica managed to pull her out. Paramedics arrived quickly and were able to save her life. She was hospitalized until her condition became stable.
Once all the victims were safe, the people making up the chain also returned to the shore. Everyone broke out in cheers and applause. They had done it! They had come together and saved so many people from drowning! They could hardly believe it! This is the outcome when people come together to help others. An incredible mix of excitement, happiness and euphoria could be felt all along that stretch of the beach.
You can see the whole rescue operation in the video below:
Roberta Ursey and her family will be forever grateful to Jessica and everyone else who was on the beach that day. Nobody involved will be able to forget what happened, and luckily we have a video record of this remarkable gesture of human solidarity. The images really do restore one’s faith in mankind!