Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

80 strangers form incredible human chain to save a drowning family

riptide.jpg

It was an incredible moment: dozens of strangers – many of whom couldn’t swim – joined hands and formed a human chain in a desperate attempt to save a drowning family caught in a dangerous riptide.

Nine family members, including two young children, found themselves caught in a treacherous current in the Gulf of Mexico. Unable to escape the patch of water, they soon feared the worst – with mother Roberta Usrey telling the Panama City News Herald: “I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day. It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I'm going.’”

Thankfully, though, beachgoer Jessica Simmons happened to catch sight of the family.


Read more: 15 books that taught us to have courage and be kind


Simmons grabbed a boogie board and began to paddle out into the ocean, intent on pulling them back to safety. On the shore, meanwhile, her husband helped to round up people to form a human chain.

“These people are not drowning today,” Simmons told herself. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”

As Simmons paddled further and further away from the shore, the human chain grew, with 80 people stretching over 100 yards out to follow her.

“I got to the end, and I know I’m a really good swimmer,” Simmons said. “I practically lived in a pool. I knew I could get out there and get to them.”

After 30 minutes, she finally reached Usrey and her family, they were in a very bad way.

However Simmons remained calm and, with help from her husband, began towing them back one-by-one to the human chain, where they were pulled back to shore.

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

She added: “It's so cool to see how we have our own lives and we're constantly at a fast pace, but when somebody needs help, everybody drops everything and helps. That was really inspiring to see we still have that.”

Ursrey doesn't remember being rescued: she can only recall the panic of the ocean, and waking up on the shore.

She and her family are all recovering after the terrifying incident – and they are all incredibly grateful to their team of rescuers.

“I am so grateful,” she said. “These people were God's angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family's life to them. Without them, we wouldn't be here.”

Images: Facebook

Related

kindness use.jpg

City launches kindness initiative to spotlight small acts of heroism

iStock-647036194.jpg

This dad had the best reason for banning his daughter from waxing

kindess_meter_art.jpg

Collective kindness projects that re-tap our sense of human decency

More

Meteorologist’s epic response to troll who called her “disgusting”

“Enough is enough.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 Aug 2017

Acts of love, humanity and solidarity following the Barcelona attack

In the darkness, there is light.

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

How you can help those caught up in the Barcelona attack

The ways you can support the victims, survivors and investigation

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

People are furious about Trump’s response to the Barcelona attack

The world is sick of his double-standard on terrorism

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Ryan Phillipe on how he tackles depression

“I’m thinking about how to focus and steady myself”

by Susan Devaney
17 Aug 2017

Are black girls being forced to grow up too fast?

A study has shown that black girls as young as five are seen as more adult than their white peers

by Kemi Alemoru
17 Aug 2017

Teen receives sickening messages after asking for career advice

This businessman's response was shocking

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017

We want everything from this new high-street Disney collaboration

Seriously magical

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017

JK Rowling's video game confession has sparked a Twitter frenzy

The internet is LOVING it

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017

New law forces women in Texas to buy “rape insurance” for abortions

“I am proud to sign the legislation,” Governor Greg Abbott said

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017