Two Swimmers Die, More Than a Dozen Rescued Off Panhandle Beaches

Authorities in the Florida Panhandle say two swimmers died and more than a dozen others had to be rescued this weekend from rough surf kicked up by the remnants of Hurricane Rita.

On Saturday at Miramar Beach, Walton County sheriff's deputies pulled a Kentucky man from the surf. Officials say the 52-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

At Pensacola Beach, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office says witnesses saw a man walk out of the surf, then collapse as he turned back toward the water. An autopsy has been scheduled.

Bob West with the Santa Rosa Island Authority says the last confirmed drowning on Pensacola Beach was in 2003. But nine other people, including the Kentucky victim, have drowned elsewhere along a 150-mile stretch of Panhandle coastline this year.

That surpasses the seven drownings recorded in the same area last year but still is below 24 such deaths that occurred in 2003, including seven at Pensacola Beach.