Beachgoers at Panama City Beach Form an 80-Person Chain

Beachgoers at Panama City Beach Form an 80-Person Chain
Camilo Atkinson

Panama City Beach, Florida, Roberta Ursrey, 34, and her family where at the Panama City Beach this past Saturday. She had just left the water when she saw her two sons, Stephen, 8, and Noah, 11, were too far from the shore.

When she heard them screaming and crying that they were stuck the whole family swam out to get them. Unfortunately, the current at Panama City Beach was strong and trapped them as well.

That was when Jessica Simmons saw that they were drowning and heard them asking for a rope. She and her husband Derek didn’t hesitate to help.

Jessica grabbed a boogie board and paddled toward them, as her husband started the 80-person human chain along with other Florida beachgoers.

“I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day,” Ursrey said. “It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going.”

“I am so grateful,” Ursrey told the Panama City News Herald. “These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

“These people are not drowning today,” Jessica remembers that she told herself; “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”

Jessica and Derek’s quick thinking and unwillingness to see them drown, is what saved Ursrey’s family at Panama City Beach.

This is not the first time that Jessica Simmons did something heroic. Back in Alabama, she once walked 11 miles after a tornado to help people clean up the mess and get their lives back together.

This is one of those stories where humans get together to do something amazing. “It is the most remarkable thing to see,” Jessica said.

“It’s so cool to see how we have our own lives and we’re constantly at a fast pace, but when somebody needs help, everybody drops everything and helps,” Jessica said. “That was really inspiring to see that we still have that. With everything going on in the world, we still have humanity.”

Jessica Simmons, her husband, and all the people on Panama City beach that acted heroically that day are to thank for this family’s lives. Their brave actions gave Ursrey’s mother and two children a second chance. I’m sure they will never forget this day when a simple act of human kindness made a huge difference.

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