PANAMA CITY (CBSMiami) – Rough surf conditions and rip tides off Panama City Beach have cost three men their lives.
Richard Redmon, 48, drowned while swimming while double red flags were posted at Panama City Beach on Friday. On Sunday, 41-year-old Jesse Spaulding and 59-year-old Jeffery Simms drowned as single red flags were flying. They were visiting from West Virginia.
Officers say Redmon had been trying to help another swimmer in distress when he drowned.
Spaulding was brought to shore Sunday by other swimmers after he got caught in a riptide. Simms was also caught in a rip current. Bystanders and paramedics attempted CPR.
Double red flags indicated “extremely dangerous surf conditions.” A single red flag signifies high hazard.
“They were running up and down in the beach patrol with the microphone saying your ‘your not allowed to go swimming, you’re not allowed to go swimming because the rip tide was so bad,” said Sean Cunningham who was visiting from New Jersey.
Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas said their police department has had 93 calls since the 18th.
“That’s an awful lot of rescue calls it puts a lot of people in danger,” he said.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office said anyone caught in swimming in the water when there is a red flag flying will be given a warning. If they are caught again, they could be arrested, fined up to $500, and spend up to 60 days in jail.
The sheriff’s office added that the water conditions are expected to get better beginning Wednesday.