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Rip current blamed for death of 14-year-old in South Florida

Posted at 12:54 PM, Apr 08, 2019

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A rip current is being blamed for the death of a 14-year-old boy in South Florida on Sunday.

Rescue officials and deputies were called about three children caught in the rip at Bath Tub Reef Park around 7:23 p.m.

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The Martin County Sheriff's Office says the other two children were able to make it out with only minor injuries. But, the 14-year-old boy was swept away in the current.

His body was pulled out of the water by a Martin County deputy after a 30 minute search. Despite vigorous life saving efforts, the sheriff's office says he passed away early Monday morning at a Palm Beach County hospital.

Rip currents are narrow, channeled water currents that flow horizontally away from the shore, according to Visit Florida. They typically form at breaks in sandbars or near structures, like piers and jetties, according to the National Weather Service.

If you're caught in a rip current, NWS says to do the following:

  • Relax — Rip currents don't pull you under.
  • A rip current is a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second -- faster than an Olympic swimmer — do not attempt to swim against the rip, it will only use up the energy you need to survive and escape.
  • Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim parallel, along the shoreline until you escape the current's pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can't reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: If in doubt, don't go out!
  • If at all possible, only swim at beaches with lifeguards.
  • If you choose to swim on beaches without a lifeguard, never swim alone. Take a friend and have that person take a cell phone so he or she can call 911 for help.

Rip currents can be hard to spot, but look for the following clues:

  • A channel of churning, choppy water
  • A color change in a particular area
  • A line of seaweed, foam or debris moving gradually towards the sea
  • A break in the incoming wave pattern

Remember to always check beach conditions before you go. Mote Marine Lab & Aquarium has this beach condition reporting system you can use.