Strangers form human chain to rescue swimmers on Panama City Beach

Beachgoers form human chain to save family of 9 from drowning in Panama City Beach

A riptide swept away a Florida family. Then beachgoers formed a human chain.

"It seemed very OK where me and my wife went out to, but a little ways out was two kids on the boogey board screaming for help and nobody was around", Brittany Monroe said on the phone Monday. "When someone like me can swim, why not use your abilities to help someone?" So Derek Simmons, his niece and a few others started gathering people to form a human chain. At that point, people on the shore began to realize what was happening.

For 20 minutes, Ursrey, the rest of her family as well as other swimmers were fighting for their lives. "I ran back to shore and my husband ran over to them".

The Panama City Beach Police Department did not immediately reply to ABC News' request for comment.

Jessica and Derek Simmons swam past the 80 or so human links, some who couldn't swim, and headed straight for the Ursreys, using surf and boogie boards to aid their rescue efforts.

Rosalind Beckton took several photos of people creating a human chain in the water.

Luckily, fellow beachgoer Jessica Simmons noticed the growing crowd on shore pointing toward the Ursreys as they struggled against the current. At one point, the 67-year-old woman told the rescuers "to just let her go" and save themselves.

"I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day", Ursrey told

By the time Simmons got to the distressed swimmers, Ursrey's mother was exhausted, and her eyes were rolling back.

Simmons, her husband and some others then towed the family to the chain, which passed them back to shore. "God's good grace and them is the reason we're here today".

"We need more of that", Jessica Simmons said. She was resuscitated and is recovering in the hospital.

"I am so grateful", Ursrey told CBS.

In a Facebook post, Jessica Simmons expressed a similar sentiment: "To see people from different races and genders come into action to help TOTAL strangers is absolutely unbelievable to see!"

Ursrey (second from right), her husband, Bryan (right), 31, her mother, Barbara Franz (center), 67, and nephews immediately swam out to get them but found the too current strong, leaving nine people stranded in about 15 feet of water.

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