WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMMB) — Saturday, a swimmer got caught in a riptide off a beach in South Walton. A bystander then entered the water and was quickly overtaken.
Two South Walton Fire District lifeguards then went to save the two victims and successfully brought them back to shore.
One of the victims and one of the lifeguards involved were transported to the hospital for further medical attention.
This happened as the beaches of South Walton designated double red flags, indicating that the water was closed to the public.
“When beachgoers ignore the Double Red Flags, they put themselves and well-meaning bystanders in danger,” said the SWFD in a Facebook post. “They ALSO put their EMS rescuers in unnecessary danger.”
Throughout the day, the SWFD said their crews responded to several other water rescue calls in the area, including one near Eastern Lake on an unguarded beach.
“We think it’s fair to demand that the public heed the warnings and do its part to ensure our personnel don’t get injured or worse by being reckless and defiant of our messaging,” the SWFD said in the post. “Don’t put yourselves, the public, and our First Responders in danger because you are convinced that you are the exception to the rule.”
Several counties have seen similar situations.
Franklin County also lost a first-responder on a similar call earlier this week.
Panama City Beach has cracked down on violators of the flag system.