Dozens of Florida beachgoers banded together to save people caught out by a rip tide amid reports that law enforcement did nothing to help.
Rosalind Beckton of Tallahassee shared incredible pictures of the scene on Facebook in which people can be seen with arms linked in a human chain as they attempt to pull the stranded group back to shore at Panama City Beach on Sunday (9 July).
"I always feared the beach waters. I tell my son over and over don't go out far because of rip currents/undertow and all the added danger of the waters. Today he witnessed first hand what them currents can do." Beckton said in her Facebook post.
Beckton said the eight people in the water survived but added that only one police officer ran into the water while lambasting another for standing by as someone else helped a woman needing CPR.
"My fun day turn sad for awhile. God answers prayers and we all rejoice with tears, hugs, and praises after being stuck for almost an hour." Beckton said.
In another Facebook post, Jessica Mae Simmons wrote that around 70 people helped to form the human chain and that her and her husband, as strong swimmers, were part of a group who helped the stranded people to the chain so they could be pulled back to shore. Local news said that the human chain was closer to 80 people.
"To see people from different races and genders come into action to help TOTAL strangers is absolutely amazing to see!! People who didn't even know each other went HAND IN HAND IN A LINE, into the water to try and reach them. Pause and just IMAGINE that." Simmons wrote.
Simmons' post does not make clear the exact number of people saved but she also had stern words for the nearby police officers. "What I do want to make note of is the five police officers sitting on the beach did not even offer to even help or be apart of the human chain." she wrote.
"I understand that officers may not be trained to handle a rip tide and their clothes may weigh them down, but AT LEAST be part of the human chain." Simmons added. "In my eyes, it was a disgrace."