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Changes made at Apollo Beach Preserve following deaths of father, son and Good Samaritan

Apollo Beach Changes
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 12:00:02-04

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. — Apollo Beach Preserve reopened Saturday, following the deaths of a father and son, and a Good Samaritan who tried to save them, last week.

The park closed after Janosh Purackal, 37, and his 3-year old son, Daniel, were reported wading in the water when a current swept them away. A third swimmer, Kristoff Murray, 27, immediately jumped into the water to try to help. No one survived.

“It’s just a really really sad situation because you know one day they’re here the next day they’re not and it’s gonna be a scar for that whole family and the community for a long long time,” said Purackal’s neighbor, Nick Gennaro.

During the park’s closure, Hillsborough County added fifteen signs warning people there is no swimming or wading allowed, and the potential dangers behind it, like rock features, a boating channel, steep drop off and potential rip tides.

“It’s important because the tragedy that just occurred. We don’t want that to ever happen again and anything that we can do to reinforce that there is no swimming, no wading, it’s our job to do that,” said Forest Turbiville, the director of the Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Department.

Turbiville said at least one staff member will be at the preserve every day for the next several days to monitor the area and inform visitors of potential dangers.

“We’ll continue to evaluate the safety of the park. There probably will be but we haven’t identified all of those yet but there will be one or two additions coming in the next several months,” said Turbiville.

People visiting the beach Saturday took note of the changes.

“I mean it’s nice that they got the signs now. That should tell people not to get in,” said Rafael Santana.

“Normally when we come it’s a lot of people on the beach and in the water and standing on the rocks, but today it’s nobody,” said Latasha Parkmond.

Meanwhile, Purackal was remembered as a doting father who kept safety top of mind.

“I think the changes are good but I think it’s more important to emphasize education,” said Melanie Gennaro.

“If it saves one person it’s gonna be worth it and I know it’s gonna be a long summer and a lot of visitors and tourist out there and they need to know that stuff,” said Gennaro.