PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach patrol officials are urging visitors to the beach to stay out of the water when there are double red flags. Those flags mean there are turbulent conditions in the Gulf.
On Tuesday, beach patrol handed out a record 33 tickets to people who were in the ocean with double red flags waving. The patrol spent all Tuesday attending to rescues, where they pulled people out of the water, who had gotten pulled into a rip current.
“When you have double red flags you need to stay out of the water,” Panama City Beach Code Enforcer James Tindle said. “Those conditions are very dangerous and we’ll keep issuing citations as long as we need to. And I feel like issuing citations makes a huge difference. It’s potentially saving a life. It also keeps our rescuers from having to go out and save somebody.”
On Tuesday, one visitor, Amber Peardon, from Moss Point, Ms. drowned. She was with two of her children and her husband, who was transported to a local hospital after all four were pulled out of the Gulf.
On Wednesday, Panama City Beach fire rescue said that they had been patrolling the beach from “sunup to sundown”.
“They put me in charge to take care of this beach and take care of the public who come here,” Ray Morgan, Fire Chief of Panama City Beach fire rescue said. “And I need the publics help to do that and we’re just not seeing the levels of cooperation we need to see.”
With double red flags up, a first fine cost $500 for people in the water. If the ticketers fine a person a second time, the fine costs $1,000.
Fire patrol had around 25 patrol officers along the beach responding to rescue calls all day. They were joined by lifeguards and police.
“We’re asking for the public’s help,” Morgan said. “We’re starting to see and have seen a lot of public defiance of city officials and the public just ignoring the flags. And its costing people their lives. And its costing us, our resources are stretched thin.”