PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A man and a woman were taken to a hospital Monday afternoon after getting caught in a rip current at Mickler's Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Johns County Fire Rescue said.
A family of six was swimming together in shallow water when they were swept out by the current.
The current was so strong that none of them were able to break free for several minutes, two beachgoers told News4Jax.
"They went in the water, really in front of us, and then we looked and said, 'Wow, they're kind of far away.' And then sure enough, pretty soon, they started calling that they couldn't get out," said Lucia Williams. "It was pretty scary because we were at the beach and so it could have been us because we were just there swimming. But it happens so fast. It's kind of scary."
They were eventually able to get back to shore, but were exhausted and struggling to breathe, beachgoers said.
Someone walking on the beach stopped to try and help them out of the water before Fire Rescue crews arrived. No lifeguards were on duty at the time.
Firefighters said a man and a woman, who were either out of the water or in ankle-deep water when first responders arrived, were taken to Baptist Medical Center Beaches as a precaution.
"I have never seen something like this. And we think that we're fine, just swimming and playing in the water and then, suddenly, those people are in big danger," said Tereza Sennholtz, who also witnessed the incident.
A high rip current risk is in effect for coastal St. Johns County until 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Anyone who finds themselves caught in a rip current should try to stay calm and swim parallel to the shoreline to get out of the current.