Florida Panhandle beach closed after another swimmer rescued by authorities

Double red flags

Double red flags were flying at a Florida Panhandle beach on Sunday as another distressed swimmer was rescued from the Gulf of Mexico. The rescue came less than 48 hours after three Alabama men died after being caught in a rip current.

According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Panama City Beach was closed to swimmers on Sunday as the waters of the Gulf of Mexico remain under high risk for life-threatening rip currents, AL.com reported.

The sheriff’s office said one swimmer was rescued at Panama City Beach and received CPR from a rescue team, WMBB-TV reported. The condition of the swimmer has not been released.

“PLEASE STAY OUT OF THE WATER,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “The water can appear calm but underneath currents are treacherous today. It’s just too dangerous right now to swim.”

Strong rip currents killed four beachgoers in 48 hours in Panama City Beach, including three men vacationing from Alabama. At least six people have died from rip currents in the past week; two adults from Pennsylvania died on Florida’s east coast after being caught in a rip current at Stuart Beach in Martin County.

According to a news release posted to Facebook on Friday by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the victims were identified as Harold Denzel Hunter, 25; Jemonda Ray, 24; and Marius Richardson, 24. All three men were from Birmingham, the sheriff’s office said.

Single red flags were flying Saturday morning, indicating high surf and/or strong currents, the Panama City News Herald reported. Shortly after 3 a.m. CDT on Saturday, the National Weather Service issued a statement, noting that dangerous rip currents were expected on Panhandle beaches in Bay, Walton, Gulf and Franklin counties through 4 a.m. CDT on Monday, according to the newspaper.

Double red flags were flying at the beach on Sunday. According to the City of Panama City Beach website, a double red flag indicated a very high hazard for swimmers and the water is closed to the public.

“The issue is much like tornado warnings and getting people to take them seriously,” Alabama meteorologist James Spann wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. “Understand rip currents can be deadly for young, strong swimmers. It doesn’t matter. Please take the flags seriously if you are beach bound this summer.”

Rip currents are powerful, concentrated channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, the News Herald reported. Most are found at low spots or breaks in a sandbar and form when incoming waves create an underwater sandbar, according to the newspaper.

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