Florida Mom Dies While Trying to Save Children From Rip Current

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 16, 2018US News

A Florida mother died on Saturday, Oct. 13, trying to save her children from a rip current.

Samar Aboukhdair, 36, was watching eight children—six of her own and two others—when a rip current caught some of them, prompting the mother to rush into the ocean at St. Pete Beach in Pinellas County.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said that firefighters eventually saved the children and Aboukhdair, but she passed away at a nearby hospital.

Four witnesses helped officials with the rescue, the office said.

“The children were reported to have been swimming north of the Pass-A-Grill Southwest Jetty when a witness heard the children scream from the water. The witnesses reported four children in the water and pulled two of the children out of the water to safety after it appeared they were caught in a strong tidal current,” the office stated.

“Witnesses say Aboukhdair went after the third child and became caught in the strong tidal current herself. One of the older children also went in the water with Aboukhdair and also became caught in the strong tidal current.”

Rush to Help

One of the rescuers, Laura Grande, said that her husband, Richard Grande, first noticed the children were in trouble.

“You could just see the current pulling them out, the kids were screaming and crying,” she told Fox 13.

“He looked up and he told me, he says oh my god, Laura there’s some children drowning out there,” she told WFLA.

“And we were yelling out to turn around and float on your backs and let the current take you in. Cuz I was going to try to follow them along the inlet.”

Richard Grande said he was able to rescue two of the children, and the couple stayed with them until a family friend of their’s came to pick them up.

“They were very grateful, hugging us and crying on us for the past three hours,” he said.

Officials said that the children’s father was traveling outside the country but had scheduled the next flight back to the United States after hearing the news.

While signs in the area warn of strong rip currents, the Grandes believe lifeguards should be on duty or some other measure should be implemented.

“There’s not one line to throw out, not safety jackets, not lifeguards,” Richard Grande told Fox 13. “I am going to think of this family and these children for the rest of my life, it’s something that will never leave.”

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