Their Vacation Had Barely Begun When They Drowned

3 friends get caught in rip current shortly after arriving in Florida
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2024 3:00 AM CDT
3 Friends Die in Florida Rip Current
FILE - Waves approach the shore in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. On Saturday, June 22, 2024, authorities said three Alabama men have died from likely drowning after becoming distressed while swimming at a Florida Panhandle beach.   (Andrew Wardlow/News Herald via AP, File)

Three Alabama men who went for an evening swim shortly after arriving at a Florida Panhandle beach were caught in a rip current and died, authorities say. It was the latest in a rash of recent deaths in Florida waters after a Pennsylvania couple drowned off the state's southeast coast, the AP reports. The young Alabama men had traveled to the Panama City Beach area Friday evening with a group of friends and had just checked into their rental and gone for a swim when they went into distress, the Bay County Sheriff's Office said in an updated Facebook post on Saturday evening. "The three men were caught in a rip current shortly after entering the water," the post said.

The sheriff's office had received the initial emergency call about the distressed swimmers shortly after 8pm, officials said. The US Coast Guard and others began rescue efforts. The men were found separately and eventually pronounced dead at area hospitals, authorities said. The sheriff's office identified the three as Birmingham, Alabama, residents Harold Denzel Hunter, 25, Jemonda Ray, 24, and Marius Richardson, 24. Earlier this week, single red flags had been posted at the beach, indicating high-hazard surf and rip current conditions. (On Thursday, a Pennsylvania couple visiting Florida with their six children drowned after they were caught in a rip current while swimming.)

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