Roberta Ursrey and her family were enjoying the day at M.B. Miller County Pier on the Gulf of Mexico when she noticed her sons were missing, the Panama City News Herald reported. The human chain was composed of 80 people stretching more than 100 yards out to Ursrey's family.
Ursrey passed out as she was being saved and her mother, Franz suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was rushed to the hospital, where she is still recovering. A married couple who had swum out to rescue the Ursreys, Tabatha Monroe and her wife, Brittany, also needed rescue. "Boy, do I have a story", she said.
Jessica Simmons was one of those who came to the family's rescue, according to CBS News. But others had tried to reach them and each previous rescue attempt had only stranded more people. 'It's not happening. We're going to get them out, ' she recalled telling herself.
"One of the biggest problems is people treat the ocean as they would a swimming pool, especially when the waves are smaller", Paxton said. While Simmons grabbed a boogie board and swam out to meet the distressed, her husband and other beachgoers started a human chain.
"I knew I could get out there and get to them", she told the Panama City News Herald.
Ms Simmons described a distressing scene in the water, including finding the family's grandmother was nearly unconscious as she was hauled back to shore.
Simmons said that the event reaffirmed her faith in humanity.
Simmons told the News Herald that Franz's eyes were rolling back. When a tornado ripped through a neighborhood in Alabama, Jessica Simmons was out in the wreckage with her chainsaw.
"The tide knocked every bit of energy out of us", Ursrey told The Washington Post. "They think it's gentle and they get pulled out a little bit and they panic". "People who didn't even know each other went hand in hand in a line, into the water to try and reach them", she continued. Ursey referred to those courageous men and women on the beach that pulled them out as "God's angels".