NewsPinellas County


Good Samaritans rescue man from rip current on Upham Beach

A boater nearby spotted the man in trouble
Posted at 10:50 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 23:25:13-04

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. -- The St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue said a man was rescued from a rip current on Monday.

The rescue happened around sunset on Upham Beach in Pinellas County.

Travis Olson and Katie Belle Perkins were on the beach when they spotted a man in the water. The two heard him cry out for help.

"Instinct. First thing that came to mind was help, go get him, someone is in distress, go help," said Travis Olson.

Olson said he ran into the water to reach the elderly man. He said the current was strong and the man could not get out of it.

"He was in a lot of distress so I'd want someone to do the same for me. I just wanted to go out and save him," said Olson.

Perkins stayed onshore and called 911.

Josh Lorek had been fishing nearby. Olson spotted Lorek's boat and waved at him to come over.

"Travis flagged me down. I drove over there and threw him a rope and he hopped on the back of the boat," said Lorek.

The two men rescued the elderly man from the water and brought him to paramedics on the shore.

"There's a very big, strong current right around that jetty over there and I see it all the time. You can actually see the current moving around. Kids will be out there all the time," said Lorek.

Lorek said the man appeared exhausted but OK. He refused medical attention.

St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue posted a warning about rip currents on Facebook. The fire rescue wrote, "One of the best visual identifiers of a rip current is to look out for gaps between the waves. The calmer gap between waves may look safer for you to swim, but a small patch of calm water in an otherwise choppy sea is often a rip current."

If you get caught in a rip current, do not panic. Instead, swim parallel to shore. If you're unable to swim out of the current, signal for help by waving your arms and calling out for help

"I'd want somebody to help me if I was in that situation," said Perkins.

"Not a lot of people out there either so I'm glad we were here. He seemed to be by himself. I don't know what would have happened if we weren't here," added Olson.