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3 pulled from rip currents at Jacksonville Beach

Swimmers taken to hospital after being rescued from ocean

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Three men were rescued Tuesday after getting caught in rip currents at Jacksonville Beach.

All three were taken to the hospital.

Two of the swimmers were rescued Tuesday morning from rough surf near the Jacksonville Beach pier, and the third was rescued later.

Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue is advising swimmers to stay out of the water Tuesday because of the dangerous beach conditions. 

Red flags have been up for the last few days to warn beachgoers of the dangerous rip currents, which are hard to spot and can pull someone under quickly.

“It’s a nasty day out, strong rips, the ocean is still torn up after the hurricane and the nor’easter after that, so we are recommending everyone to stay out of the water,” Capt. Robert Emahiser said.

But lifeguards were busy all day Tuesday making rescues because swimmers didn't head the warnings.

“I’ve been seeing the patrols come up and down and the police getting people out from under the pier. I guess there’s still some danger out there,” swimmer Nathan Barnes said.

Barnes said he wants to take a dip in the water, but he doesn’t know if he wants to risk it.

“Not due to debris or anything, just not prime conditions, so I'm kind of indecisive,” Barnes said. “I hope it gets better.”

But the number of rescues that lifeguards have made this week might change his mind.

In addition to the three men taken to the hospital on Tuesday, one man drowned over the weekend, and two other swimmers needed emergency help Monday at Mickler’s Landing.

Emahiser said not only has Hurricane Matthew left behind debris, it’s helped create the hazardous conditions seen in the last few days.

“All those storms have moved around the sand enough, wiped out sand from the dunes and formed larger sandbars, and with larger sandbars there will be larger holes in the sandbars, and that’s where the rips are,” Emahiser said.

Even on a sunny day, the water can be deceiving.

“There’s always hazards out there,” Barnes said. “So you just have to keep a watchful eye.”

Emahiser said Ocean Rescue is urging people to listen to the warnings because there are fewer lifeguards on duty this late in the season, so it’s important to stay out of the water when the red flags are up.

"Especially with kids. This weekend, we saw a lot of very small children in enough water to knock them over and drag them back into the water. It’s just not worth it," Emahiser said. "Even if you think you are a good swimmer, you’re not that good of a swimmer today, so the best advice is to just go ahead and stay out of the water.”