VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Fifty-two people were rescued Monday from strong rip currents along Volusia County beaches, the day after lifeguards said a rip current caused a 43-year-old man from Tennessee to drown in Ormond Beach.
News 6 learned he was swimming in an unguarded area near Rockefeller Beach.
A 911 call released on Monday was from a witness who described the struggling swimmer and two other men, including a surfer, trying to help. Lifeguards managed to rescue the group from the water and the swimmer was rushed to the hospital but later died.
"It's very, very tragic," beachgoer Aiesha Banks said.
Banks is from Eastern Tennessee and on vacation with her daughter, Justice. Banks said because the rip currents are so strong, she won't let her daughter swim alone and they stay close to shore.
"Where we're from, we just have lakes and not a lot of oceans, so we don't really know much about the tides," Banks said. "We know the waves just knock us down and it's fun. So, that's very, very tragic and my condolences go out to the family."
Volusia County Beach Safety Patrol rescued 147 people from the water over the last two days. Capt. Tammy Malphurs said it's not unusual to have hazardous rip current conditions during this time of year, it just depends on the surf and the tides. The red flag was flown on Monday warning swimmers of the rip currents. Malphurs said it's not only imperative but lifesaving to swim in front of a lifeguard.
"A lot of times those lifeguards will be able to see you caught in a rip current before you even realize you're in it," she said.