BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — A man died on Tuesday while attempting to save his 7-year-old son and a dog when they were caught in a rip current off a southwest Florida beach, authorities said.
According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the child went into the water at Bonita Dog Beach to retrieve a dog toy when he was caught in the current, WFTX-TV reported.
The man, whose name and identity have not been released, went into the water and was also caught in the current, according to the television station. Another beachgoers, who called 911, was able to bring the child to shore, but the man remained face down in the water. He had been there for approximately five minutes before a nearby paddleboarder rendered assistance and pulled him to shore, WINK-TV reported.
“After (Hurricane Ian), the landscape has changed so much. We don’t know what the water, what the ground is like underneath,” Henry Hoerrmann, a regular at Bonita Dog Beach, told the television station. “Some of it’s soft, some of it’s hard. You get stuck, it’s crazy.”
The U.S. Coast Guard arrived on the scene and took over chest compression on the victim,” WFTX reported.
“The outgoing tide was very strong, and bystanders said he got caught in that tide,” Bonita Springs Assistant Fire Chief Jason Brod told the television station. “If a current is more than you can handle, you’re supposed to go with the current and not swim against it.”
Brian LaMarre, an official with the National Weather Service, agreed.
“You don’t want to try to outswim that rip current. We tell people to try and remain calm, it’s very difficult to do,” LaMarre told WINK. “You want to float out a little bit. Then you want to swim parallel to the beach because the rip current is going to be a certain width.”
The status of the dog was unclear, according to the television station.