PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Vacationers who stayed at the Pelican Walk Condominiums, like Ronnie Burns, were just checking into their rooms when they said they heard commotion on the beach.
“Everybody stopped what they were doing and they were trying to help, but it was pretty far out,” said Ronnie Burns, a visitor from Georgia.
Multiple visitors said they saw four swimmers struggling in the gulf straight from their balconies at Pelican Walk.
“Two of them started hollering for help. I could see them and everyone was out running that way. A couple of them dove to help them out,” said Burns.
Burns said within minutes, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, along with other agencies, were on the scene.
“I just saw the boats coming and searching and the helicopter flying around,” said Bill Wall, a visitor from Indiana.
Witnesses said one man played a big part in helping save some of the distressed swimmers caught in the gulf.
“One of the guys that went out there to the other guys, helped them come back in. I guess, break through the current,” said Burns.
Three of the four swimmers were brought to safety but one, 20-year-old Donte Plant from Atlanta, Georgia, was missing.
“When it got dark, I did see a lot of people with lights, kind of shining over the water, walking along, trying to see if they could see anything,” said Wall.
About a couple hours into searching, Plant’s body had been found.
“The last time I saw his head bob, he went down and I never saw him come back up,” said Burns.
Yellow flags had flown across Panama City Beach all day on Saturday which means moderate currents.