PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla.- Searchers in the Panama City Beach area believe they have found the body of a missing rescuer.
The rescuer, whose name has not been released yet, drowned while trying to help save two people on Wednesday.
A helicopter pilot saw the body floating in the water just off the coast of Panama City Beach around 11 a.m. Thursday morning.
The US Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Panama City Beach Police began the search for the man on Wednesday around 4:15 p.m.
Witnesses say they saw the man go into the gulf to try and save two people around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday behind Sunrise Condominiums in Panama City Beach. Beach and surf patrol had responded to a call of two swimmers in distress in that area.
Both swimmers were rescued and taken to a local hospital to be checked out.
The missing man was described as white, in his 30’s and was last seen wearing black swim trunks with a diagonal line going across them.
At the time there were double red flags being flown at the time meaning the water was unsafe to swim in and closed to swimmers.
Despite the double reds both Tuesday and Wednesday both the Panama City Beach Police Department and Bay County Sheriff’s Office responded to multiple calls and issued several warnings to beachgoers who chose to swim anyway.
BCSO rescued three swimmers on Tuesday for rough rip tide currents and in Walton County six rescues occurred within 30 minutes of each other. The afternoon storms is what make the ocean’s currents rough and why the double red flags have remained up to warm beachgoers.
The Coast Guards’ 87-foot Patrol Boat Kingfisher and 45-foot Response Boat were assisting in this search, as was a helicopter from Naval Support Activity along with Panama City Beach Police Officers and Beach and Surf Patrol.