Last Updated: Friday, 10:31 a.m.
Two men were pulled out of the ocean and hospitalized Thursday evening after they attempted to rescue a third man in distress off shore at South 26th Street in Flagler Beach Thursday evening. The third man made it to shore unharmed.
By evening, one of the three was in intensive care at AdventHealth Palm Coast.
Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney said three cousins were at the beach in an unprotected area of shore, far south of where the city’s lifeguards are on duty. “One of the cousins went out a little bit too far and appears to have been caught in a riptide, the other two went out to help,” Doughney said.
Then the two cousins who’d gone in got into distress. A Flagler Beach police officer who soon arrived at the scene dove into the water after them, as did Flagler Beach Fire Department firefighters, who brought the two men back to shore, Doughney said.
The incident was first reported to 911 at 5:12 p.m. as “two people in the water having problems,” according to 911 notes. The caller was the cousing after whom the other two men had gone in for: he’d made it back to shore and called 911, telling the dispatcher he’d barely made it back. A minute later a police officer arrived and by 5:16 one of the two cousins in trouble was out of the water. But the other was still in difficulties as firefighters dove in. The man then appeared to have been dragged further by a riptide, making it difficult for rescuers to get to him–and he went underwater.
He was unresponsive when he was pulled out of the water. At 5:22, he was reported to 911 to be in code, which usually means cardiac arrest requiring resuscitation efforts.
A Flagler County Sheriff’s report confirms that the cousins had been caught in a riptide. “We observed the 2 cousins in the water and they appeared in distress,” the sheriff’s report states. “We attempted to communicate with them to get them out of the rip tide. Both were seen floating and standing at times, but they appeared exhausted. One of the cousins was able to make it to shore and the other was still struggling.”
The identity of the men has not been released.
Both were taken by Flagler County Fire Rescue to AdventHealth Palm Coast. “I don’t know the status of their condition but they were alive when they left the beach,” Doughney said. He said it’s not uncommon for those who attempt to go after a distressed swimmer to themselves be pulled into a riptide and get into difficulties. Another official said one of the two men was in serious condition after he was pulled out. A Flagler Beach Fire Department official could not be reached this evening.
All three individuals are adult men (the cousin who called 911 is 42). Their origin is unknown for now. Drownings have been rare in Flagler Beach or elsewhere along the county’s shoreline, but this year an 80-year-old man drowned off Flagler Beach in May and an 18-year-old man was pulled from the water, dead, by Varn Park, in the unincorporated portion of shore, in June.