Rip current concerns amid teen drowning

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jul 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 08:35:57-04

BOCA GRANDE, Fla. -- A tragic case involving a teen swept away by a rip current raised safety concerns, Monday.

Fifteen-year-old Gody Marcelin passed away Saturday, after drowning off Gaspirlla Island in Boca Grande.

Marcelin was at the beach with his youth group when church members noticed he was having trouble swimming and called 911, suspecting he was pulled away by a rip current. After police, friends and bystanders searched for 40 minutes, he was found and later pronounced dead. 

A similar incident happened last summer at the same place. Twenty two-year-old Javier Castro went missing at sea after getting caught in a rip current while trying to save his sister. He was never found.

An incident report stated Marclin did not know how to swim. However, 2nd class Boatswain's Mate Daniel Vincent at the U.S. Coast Guard tells Fox 4 rip currents can pose a danger to anyone. The are normally found near passes, like Boca Grande. "Even if you're a great swimmer, anything can happen in the ocean," he said. "Even though on top it may look as calm as can be, just below the surface the current can be moving very fast."

Vincent said the most important thing to do is to stay calm. Then you should swim parallel to the beach. "Don't try to swim back to the beach because you're going to tire yourself out," said Vincent. "Swim parallel to the beach, and once you've gotten out of it [the current] and feel yourself not being taken out anymore, then you can come back in and swim back to the beach."

He also suggests wearing a life vest in the ocean if you're not a strong swimmer, and never swimming alone.