BAY COUNTY, Fla. — With rough conditions on the beach all weekend, the danger of going into the water is a real threat. In spite of a flag warning system, numerous people have lost their lives in Bay County.
In unincorporated Bay County and Panama City Beach, four people lost their lives over the weekend.
Since Tuesday, June 18, Panama City Beach has received 95 calls for rescues. Three of those resulted in deaths.
In Bay County, the sheriff’s office had 127 water rescue calls and one of those calls resulted in death.
Out of those four, one victim was local and the remaining three were tourists from Oklahoma and West Virginia.
Officials say all passed during times of double red flag conditions and even though vacation is a time for fun, it’s more important to stay safe.
Carol Wagner, Beach and Surf Patrol Supervisor said, “we understand that the tourists come down here for these beautiful beaches that they visit but they also have to realize that it is dangerous when we have double red flags and for everybody coming down to enjoy these beautiful beaches, please be safe and please be aware of our flag system.”
Mayor Mike Thomas says tourists are a huge part of the city’s economy and they’re always welcome to the area but he wants them to know, the rules do apply to all locals and tourists.
“A lot of times when you’re reading the paper, the person that goes to help somebody is the ones that get hurt. When you don’t obey the rules, there are consequences for other people and I’m not so sure there shouldn’t be consequences for you. Everybody that goes to help somebody, every policeman, every fireman, every rescue person belongs to somebody. My son’s a fireman and rescue swimmer. I want him to come home.”
In the case you don’t know how the flag system works, double red flags mean all water is closed for swimmers. Single red flags are a high hazard. Yellow flags are a medium hazard, green is calm conditions and purple flags stand for dangerous marine life.