PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - According to Panama City Beach Police, 90 people have been pulled from the Gulf since Friday, 17 of those are from Monday alone.
Dozens came together Sunday to create a human chain to save two distressed swimmers. (Shelly Callaway)
Shelly Callaway didn't know what to think when she got to work at Treasure Island Sunday and saw people lined up along the pool railing outside the Panama City Beach condo.
"I immediately ran over to see what was going on, and there was two people that had actually... they went so far out past the waves, it was a double red flag, that they could not, the current was so rough, that they could not literally swim back in," said Callaway.
She was actually witnessing a human chain being formed in the Gulf in an effort to save two swimmers in distress.
"There must have been 50 to 100 people holding hands, lined up from the beach-side out to the waves so they could help the rescuers and help the people come to shore," said Callaway.
Double red flags were flying at the time, which means it's illegal to enter the water.
"You can actually be given a criminal citation or even placed under arrest and taken to jail. We want to avoid that and just have people stay out of the water for their own safety," said Sgt. Mike Morris of the Bay County Sheriff's Office Surf Rescue.
Dozens came together to risk their lives for someone else.
"I know that there was four to six people out there, two that actually got stuck in the current, and at least four rescuers that were trying to get out there and help," said Callaway.
Although the act might be heroic, Bay County Sheriff's Officials say it's still illegal and dangerous to enter the water, even if you are saving someone.
"I know that seeing somebody in trouble while you're on the sand is a heart-wrenching thing to go through, but whenever a deputy gets on scene, if there's already people going out there to help, that's going to add more victims," said Sgt. Morris.
As proven by the human chain Sunday; civilians ended up needing to be rescued while trying to be rescuers.
"I just think that everybody should take the double red flags seriously, and when you see the double red flags you need to stay out of the water," said Callaway.
Bay County Sheriff's officials say if you see a swimmer in distress, call 911, tell them which beach access or condo to go to, and create a clear path for official rescuers.
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