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Pennsylvania parents vacationing with children in Florida drown after getting caught in rip current

Pennsylvania parents of six drowned in Florida on Thursday after getting caught in a rip current while swimming at Stuart Beach on Hutchinson Island.

A Pennsylvania couple vacationing in Florida with their six children drowned Thursday afternoon after getting caught in a rip current, local authorities reported.

The family of eight was visiting Stuart Beach on Hutchinson Island – a barrier island located on Florida’s southeastern coast – when the parents and two teenage children were swept out by a rip current while swimming, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

While the two teens were able to escape the current, their parents, identified as Brian Warter, 51, and Erica Wishard, 48, were not able to.


“The kids were able to break the current and attempted to help their parents, but it became too dangerous and they were forced to swim ashore,” the agency wrote on Facebook.

WATER SAFETY TIPS FROM EXPERTS FOR FAMILIES AND CAREGIVERS AS DROWNING DEATHS INCREASE

Warter and Wishard were located by Martin County Ocean Rescue lifeguards, who began CPR on shore before the couple was transported to Cleveland Clinic North by Martin County Fire Rescue paramedics.

“Those life-saving efforts continued in the ambulance and at the hospital where doctors gave it every last effort before declaring the couple deceased,” the MCSO said.

BEACH SAFETY TIPS: WHAT TO DO IN A RIP CURRENT AND HOW TO STAY SAFE NEAR THE WATER

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Martin County Fire Rescue posted on Facebook that red flags were flying at Jensen Beach, Stuart Beach and the Hobe Sound. A rough surf and rip current warning was also posted.

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“Happy Thursday! The surf is 4-6 ft and there is a light drift heading north, so be aware if you chose(sic) to go in the ocean,” the post read. “The water temp is 77 degrees and there’s a(sic) ESE wind blowing about 15-20 mph. We suggest strong swimmers only because rip currents are expected. If you plan on heading to the beach, please visit one of our guarded beaches.”

The post was made at 11:31 a.m. and a 911 call reporting missing swimmers came in at around 1:30 p.m., according to the fire service.

Hutchinson Island’s informational travel page on Facebook posted about the tragedy late Thursday and shared the following tips on how to avoid and escape rip currents:

1. If the flag at the beach is red, do not go in the water.

2. Watch the water before jumping in, even on green flag days.

3. Don’t enter the water where waves aren’t breaking.

4. Always watch the water as rip currents shift.

5. If you get caught in a rip current, do not panic and try to fight it. Float, wave for help and/or swim parallel to the shore.

“These signs are posted at every single beach guarded and unguarded. Please, if you’re visiting go to guarded beach first. Read these signs. If you’re not sure have a lifeguard show you what to look for when spotting rip currents,” the post reads.

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The sheriff’s office said its Crisis Intervention Team was assisting the couple’s six children until other family members arrived in Florida.

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