Human Chain Saves Drowning Family

When Roberta Usrey went to the beach at Panama City, FL with her family earlier this month, she didn’t expect to have a dramatic and terrifying day. However, when she was coming in from swimming with her sons, she turned around to see that they weren’t behind her like she thought. Roberta saw that they were further out, and then she heard them screaming that they were caught in a rip tide. Terrified, she went back out to help them, only to be caught herself! The rest of her family made the same mistake trying to help, until 8-10 people were caught helpless far from shore.

Then, the unthinkable happened: Roberta’s mother suffered a heart attack in the open ocean. Roberta later admitted thinking, “Oh God, this is how I’m going.”

Lucky for her, Jessica Simmons is a quick thinker. She figured out what was happening from shore and was determined to prevent a tragedy. She recalls thinking, “These people are not going to drown today,” so she rallied her fellow beach goers. Jessica is a strong swimmer herself, and swam out to the Usrey family while the other people on the beach, under her direction, formed a human chain of over 80 people. They reached Roberta and the others and one by one passed them down the human chain and back to safety, a distance of over 100 yards!


“It was the most remarkable thing to see,” gushes a proud Jessica. “These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.” Roberta’s mother arrived at the hospital safely and is now recovering. Roberta knows she owes her family’s lives to Jessica and all of those who helped pull them ashore that day. “These people were God’s angels…. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”