Two Georgia men were caught in strong rip currents Friday on Clearwater Beach, drowning one and injuring the other, according to Clearwater Police Department.
Ryan Terry, 20, of Gainesville, Ga., was killed, police said. Donald Larry Duncan, 41, also from Gainesville, was taken to Morton Plant Hospital.
The men were co-workers and came to the beach from Orlando, where they’d been staying in a hotel with a group of family and friends.
Rescue crews received a report of swimmers in distress around 6 p.m., police said. The incident happened in the water off of Idlewild Street.
Clearwater Police Officer Christian Zarra was on routine patrol in the area when a witness flagged him down. He immediately spotted Duncan in the water screaming for help. He jumped in after him in full uniform.
"I didn't want him to die," Zarra said. "All I did was just get him and put him in a fireman carry. I just tried to keep his head above water and drag him to shore."
A cardiologist from Canada who happened to be on the beach also helped in the rescue.
Still semi-conscious at the time, Duncan told the officer he wasn't out in the water alone. A rip current had dragged the boss and his employee about 200 yards, according to police.
"They got pulled out to sea, him and his buddy, and his buddy wasn't able to fight it," Zarra said.
Terry was spotted on a sandbar. By the time he was brought back to shore he was pronounced deceased, according to police.
Both men were swimming in a section of Clearwater Beach where there are no lifeguards.
"One of the key messages to get out to people is if you have churned up seas, if you have really rough weather like we've had the last couple of days, go to a beach where there's a lifeguard," said Clearwater Police spokesman Rob Shaw. "So if you get in trouble, there's somebody there to help you."