Chain of Heroes

Human Chain

A family of tourists that was on vacation in Panama City last weekend nearly suffered a horrible tragedy when the children became stuck out in the water. In an attempt to rescue them, the rest of the family swam out, but soon they all became caught in the rip current, 9 people in total.

Another pair of American tourists, Jessica Simmons and her husband, realized what was happening, and were determined to save them, and mobilized help from dozens of others on the beach:

Simmons isn’t the type of person to stand by and watch someone in distress. Back in Alabama, where she’s from, Simmons said she once walked 11 miles after a tornado to help people clean up their mess and get their lives back together. So when she saw Ursrey’s family in trouble, she grabbed the boogie board and started toward them while her husband and a few other men started a human chain to bring the swimmers back to shore.

“These people are not drowning today,” Simmons remembered telling herself. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”

As Simmons paddled, the human chain grew, with 80 people stretching over 100 yards out to the distressed swimmers. Some of them couldn’t swim, Simmons said, but wanted to help and stayed in the shallows. Others stood in water up to their necks, waiting for Simmons and her husband to cover the last few feet so they could pass the swimmers to shore.

What Simmons found at the end of the human chain, she said, was shocking. Ursrey’s mother was exhausted, her eyes were rolling back and Simmons remembered her “drinking so much water” and “telling us to just let her go and save us.” Everyone was exhausted, the waves knocking them under. One by one, starting with the children, Simmons and her husband, along with a few other rescuers, towed the swimmers to the human chain, who then pulled them all to shore.

The entire family was rescued safely, with only one minor injury. Thanks to Simmons, her husband, and 80 strangers who came together on the spot to help them when they were needed. Amazing.

3 comments to Chain of Heroes

  • They weren’t really helping anybody, though, because the government wasn’t involved.

    • Good point. If those people were smart, they would’ve just called for help and then sat back and waited for the proper authorities like good citizens.

      If you’ve ever seen the British show “The IT Crowd”, there’s a funny scene where an office fire breaks out, and an employee responds by sending a formal email to the fire department, then calmly sitting back and waiting for help to arrive. Everyone else keeps freaking out, and he’s like, “relax, I took care of it!”

    • Dr. Schplatt

      They didn’t build that chain.