JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – As Memorial Day weekend came to a close and the unofficial start of summer kicked off, the dangers associated with the rough conditions that can sometimes occur while people are having fun in the ocean came into stark relief after 10 people were pulled from Jacksonville Beach waters Monday.
Red, high hazard warning flags were out on full display, but many people were still out swimming despite the dangerous conditions including one little girl who was pulled from the ocean by bystanders and then a lifeguard around 4:30 p.m.
"We turned around and this girl, she's like, 'My sister's drowning. I can't get to her!' We look out and you could see a little girl bobbing up and down out there," Cory Salt, one of the girl's rescuers said. "She was struggling because when she was above the water, she was panicking and struggling to breathe."
Salt carried the girl to shore while his friend, Chase Gunnell, helped push them toward shore where once they got to an area where they could stand, a lifeguard was able to get the girl to safety.
"I'm automatically assuming with this current, there's somebody out there that's not going to make it. We ran out there jumping under waves, and we finally get to her, and I feel like if we hadn't have gotten to her, she was gone," Gunnell said.
The lifeguard finished dragging the girl to shore, where she was helped by EMT personnel and given oxygen. It appeared she was going to be OK.
Not long before that rescue, a lifeguard pulled a man from the ocean and another girl had to be rescued, as well.
Lifeguards said the two were delirious and had swallowed a lot of water, but that they were going to be OK.
Lifeguards are urging anyone headed into the waters to be extra careful.
Red flags were also up along St. Augustine Beach because of rough surf and the danger of extreme rip currents.
One woman, a St. Augustine native who was on the beach with her husband Monday, said she's hesitant to get in the water at all and had some words of advice for any tourists hitting the beaches.
"When rip currents come in like this people really need to pay attention, especially the people that don't live at the beach and are on vacation," Carol Wesley said. "I wouldn't let my own child out probably without a parent."
Lifeguards said to keep in mind those red flags are up for a reason, so you should know the risk before you go in the water.