MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Good Samaritans on Miami Beach raced to save a man found unresponsive in the water, but their efforts came to a tragic end.
Witnesses said it all began when a beachgoer inquired about her husband on the beach near 57th Street, just before 2 p.m., Sunday.
Ocean Rescue Chief Vincent Canosa said this incident was possibly caused by a medical issue.
“This woman tapped this man calmly on the shoulder and said, ‘My husband was out swimming, and I haven’t seen him in a while,'” said witness Julie Banderas. “She was very calm. She had no idea there had been some sort of incident.”
When beachgoers looked out at the water, they saw a terrifying sight.
“I looked up and just ran to the water,” said good samaritan Alex Skora.
“He noticed a body floating face down, about 100, 150 feet off the shore,” said Banderas.
That’s when Banderas and other witnesses jumped into the water.
“My first instinct was ‘What can I do to help’ and I just ran out, didn’t really think, I just ran,” said Skora.
The good Samaritans said they were told other beachgoers ran to grab a lifeguard.
“People were screaming at his lifeguard stand, and he wasn’t listening. He was on his cellphone at the time,” said Banderas, “so people started slamming on the window of the lifeguard station, while me and this other man, who I don’t know, swam out to retrieve the man who was floating in the water.”
Witnesses said the lifeguard eventually saw what was happening and swam out to help them.
“Unfortunately it took two bystanders to find him and the life guard came at the last minute, but at that point it was too late,” said Banderas.
Canosa said the lifeguard was calling for backup at the time and was not on his phone.
“The report I received from the lifeguard and the lieutenant was nobody at all was ever on his deck,” Canosa said. “He appeared to go face down in the water like he was snorkeling, he had his face in the water, face down, was when he noticed that he didn’t come up in about 20, 25 seconds, he called on the radio and asked for backup, and he responded.”
“We got out there as fast as we could and tried to keep his head above water,” said Skora. “It was very difficult at the time to figure out what happened to him because we were all just trying to get him in as soon as possible.”
Within minutes of receiving the call, multiple first responders showed up and tried to save the 65-year-old man.
Cell phone video from witnesses rolled as the man was brought to the beach.
Witnesses said the swimmer was unresponsive.
“It was clear he was not in good condition, and that is a hard thing to see,” said Skora.
Paramedics rushed the victim to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he later died.
Sunday’s drowning comes one day after another man was also pulled from the water near 59th Street and Collins Avenue.
He was taken to the hospital in critical condition. As of Sunday night, officials have not provided an update on his condition.
“It’s a reminder of how fragile our life is and how quickly things can change,” said Skora.
Canosa said beachgoers should be mindful of the color of the flags on the beach, as they are indicators of the condition of the sea.
Miami Beach Fire Rescue officials did not immediately respond to 7News’ request for more details about the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s drowning.
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