PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — On Monday, a young girl got caught in a rip current near the Fontainebleau vacation rental building. Thankfully, one city employee was in the right place at the right time.
Bobby Bland, PCB street superintendent, had been temporarily assigned to patrol the beaches to enforce coronavirus guidelines. He had not even parked for five minutes on a break when he heard someone screaming for help. He looked out into the water and saw an 11 or 12-year-old girl about 150 yards out floundering in the water.
“Somebody’s little girl was in trouble and I just, I didn’t think, I just went, ” Bland said. “I would assume anybody would have done the same thing. If you could hear her screaming you would have just went on.”
Bland said he and another man worked together to pull her out of the water. Bland said the riptide dragged the girl 400 yards from where she originally was with her family.
“About 30 minutes later, when everything calmed down, she came back over and gave me a hug,” Bland said.” I just told her, ‘be careful.'”
He added that it was a red flag day. PCB officials continue to advise swimmers to heed the flag system warning, referring to rip tide as “silent killers,” with those who get caught it them at the ocean’s mercy.
Rip currents kill approximately 100 people annually along the east, west and Gulf coasts of the U.S.
News 13 reported that Walton County saw one drowning death over Memorial Day weekend and Panama City saw one earlier this month.