Wake up with a Smile

Join our newsletter

80 Beachgoers Form Human Chain, Risk Lives To Save Family Caught In Riptide.

This past Saturday, on a beautiful afternoon at Panama City Beach, Florida, a tragedy struck that nearly claimed the lives of several beachgoers, including a woman named Roberta Usrey and her family.

Roberta had just returned to the beach from swimming with her sons when she turned back to the ocean to a horrifying scene: her sons had been swept further away from shore. Then she heard them screaming that they were stuck, caught in a riptide.

Roberta and the rest of her family swam out to them, but they too became victims to the current, finding themselves trapped in the water. At this point, 8 people were all caught in the riptide (some sources report as many as 10), struggling to stay afloat.

That’s when Roberta’s mother suffered a heart attack.


“I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day,”Roberta said later. “It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going.’â€

That’s when Jessica Simmons–a complete stranger to the Ursrey family–spotted them from the beach and sprang into action.
“These people are not drowning today,”she recalled saying to herself. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.â€

Jessica rallied beachgoers to form a human chain as she swam out to the panicked family. The human chain grew to 80 people stretching over 100 yards. Jessica–who is an exceptionally strong swimmer–reached the family and began passing the individuals down the chain, towing them to shore.


“It was the most remarkable thing to see,”said Jessica. “These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.â€

Washington Post

Roberta said her mother was revived in the ambulance and is now in the hospital. The rest of her family is alive and well now, grateful to have survived their ordeal.

“These people were God’s angels,”said Roberta. “I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.â€

Washington Post

Jessica said she still isn’t over the way everyone dropped what they were doing to come together for this family. “With everything going on in the world, we still have humanity.â€


Share this incredible story of bravery today!

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.