Man from Mississippi dies due to drowning at Gulf Shores public beach on Sunday

As the week started in Baldwin County’s beaches, the rough waters continued to pose a threat to swimmers. On Monday, June 17, 2024, heavy surf and rip currents created hazardous conditions once again. Sadly, the previous day, a 23-year-old man from Mississippi lost his life in the rough waters. In addition, two more swimmers had to be rescued near the public beach located just east of the Pink Pony Pub. The situation remains precarious, and beachgoers should exercise caution while swimming in the area.

On Monday, the Gulf Shores Beach Rescue jet-ski was once again in action as two boogieboarders were pulled in from offshore. A concerned beachgoer had called 9-1-1 after spotting the distressed swimmers over 100 yards from shore. Although the swimmers had floatation devices and claimed they could swim, lifeguards decided to pull them in as a precautionary measure. It was a busy day for the vigilant lifeguards on duty.

Petra Deweese recalled the incident with a smile, stating that she and the jet ski operator were having a good time. She had requested him to leave them alone to swim back, but he had warned them about the potential danger. However, after attempting to swim back to the shore, she realized that it was much harder than she had anticipated.

According to the Chief of Staff for the Gulf Shores Fire Department, simply floating in a pool does not equate to swimming in the Gulf. In fact, if you were to ask a hundred people on the beach, they would likely all claim to be able to swim, despite potential dangers in the open water.

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On Monday, there were once again red flags signaling hazardous conditions at the beach. This marked the second consecutive day that both red and purple flags were raised. Thankfully, lifeguards were able to help two individuals in addition to the person who tragically drowned on Sunday.

According to Shepard, the swimmers were in water up to their chests when he helped them back to the shore. During the rescue, they informed him that there was a third person who had gone underwater. Additional lifeguards and Fire Department personnel joined in the search efforts. After about 20 minutes, the missing individual was found washed up on the shore.

On Monday, lifeguards were kept busy as they interacted one-on-one with individuals who ventured too far into the water.

According to Keaton Lamb, he had a conversation with a lifeguard who advised them to stay in shallow waters, around ankle or shin-deep, and not venture too far. The lifeguard warned them about the strong rip currents that can pull swimmers out. Therefore, he suggested that they should be cautious and stay closer to the shore as much as possible.

Last week, lifeguards had over 1,000 interactions of this kind, and despite ongoing campaigns to raise awareness about the flag system, visitors like Deweese and Juan Jose remain unaware of its meaning.

Deweese expressed his confusion about the meaning of the red flag and the double red flag. He stated that he observes boats passing by with warning flags, but he is unaware of their significance.

According to Shepard, taking personal responsibility is crucial when it comes to understanding the meaning behind the flags that are raised. He emphasized that people must take the time to comprehend the significance of the flags. If they are unsure, they can always approach any of the lifeguard towers or roving patrols to get the necessary information.

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As a result of the strong southerly winds, Gulf Shores Beach Safety officials anticipate the posting of double red flags as early as Tuesday, June 18, 2024. These conditions are expected to persist for several days, causing potential hazards for beachgoers.

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