Beach-goers rescue family from riptide currents

PASS-A-GRILLE, Fla. - While enjoying Pass-A-Grille's beaches, a man visiting from Ohio and his daughter heard screams of distress from the water.  They and another man ran into the waves and saved an entire family from rip currents.

Mary Rudolph and her family were in town from Alabama, swimming the choppy waters of Pass-A-Grille when they found themselves in trouble.  Rudolph, her husband, her two sons, a sister and a niece were all being pulled by rip currents.

William Howard, visiting the area from Ohio, said, "I'm on the beach, and all of a sudden I just heard screaming."

That's when Howard and his 15-year-old daughter, Alison, jumped into action.

While the girl ran in and grabbed Rudolph and another of her family member to safety, Howard pulled two others from the raging surf.  Another passerby, Kieth Arbuckle, helped one more to safety.

Altogether, five people between the ages of 14 and 44 were pulled from the Gulf of Mexico, which had been stirred up over the last few days. "The rough surf is a result of Tropical Storm Debby," said St. Pete Beach fire marshal Ernie Hand.

Afterward, Mary Rudolph praised the rescuers.  "All of these people are heroes," she said.  "I'm so thankful they were all here."

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