Sanford man dies after trying to rescue drowning friend

Men were caught in rip current


PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Sanford man who was vacationing in Palm Beach with coworkers died after trying to rescue a friend who had been caught in a rip current, according to the Palm Beach Police Department.

John Ussery, 51, was inshore around 4 p.m. Tuesday when he saw his friend, 25-year-old Jason DeLeon, drifting into deeper water and yelling for help. DeLeon said he was in shallow water then suddenly he was swept up by a current. 

Ussery swam out to reach DeLeon, but when he got to him, he was too exhausted and couldn't hold on anymore.

DeLeon said he and Ussery agreed to let go of one another, according to the report. DeLeon drifted out and Ussery remained caught in the rip current, police said.

Officers arrived at the shore at 4:56 p.m. and swam into the water with flotation devices. When they reached Ussery, he said, "Thank goodness you made it, I didn't have any strength left." Ussery lost consciousness when officers got him to the shore.

He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he died at 5:48 p.m. DeLeon survived the incident.

"John was the most giving person. And I guess it would only be right that he went out of this world sacrificing his life for another person," a GoFundMe page read. "Because that's just who he was."



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