Three Drownings in Less Than 48 Hours as Swimmers Ignore Rip Current Warnings

An 18-year-old teenage boy, Robi Patel of South Carolina, drowned at Panama City Beach early Tuesday afternoon.

The youth and two friends were in the Gulf of Mexico off the beach in the Thomas Drive area at the time. Witnesses say he was pulled out by the rip currents and after he was rescued resuscitation efforts failed to save his life.

Monday afternoon a 26 year old Chinese businessman here on vacation drowned in the Gulf at Edgewater when the rip currents pulled him under. His identity is being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Meanwhile, Sunday night the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend in Okaloosa County was marred by the drowning death of a 56-year-old Niceville woman at Destin.

Deputies say Mary Anne Malinowski was swimming in the Gulf with a friend when she was overcome by the rip currents shortly after 8 p.m. Citizens pulled her to shore and started CPR. The efforts to save her were not successful.

Red swimmer warning flags have been hoisted for the last two days warning swimmers to stay out of the Gulf water because of the rough currents.

At Panama City Beach police used bull horns and a helicopter to get swimmers out of the water. NewsChannel Seven broadcast repeated warnings. Many vacationers ignored the warnings and went right back into the water as soon as officers moved on to another location.