Miami Beach police warn of rip current dangers after woman dies

5 other relatives are stable at hospital

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach police are warning the public about what to do in case you're caught in a rip current following the death of a 35-year-old woman.

Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said authorities received a 911 call at 6:53 p.m. Thursday about a family of six who were in distress in the water off Collins Avenue and 17th Street.

Cellphone video showed the panic on the beach as dozens of beachgoers watched helplessly as the family screamed for help.

"The guy, his head kept going up and down," witness Derek Harris said. "And he just kept going further and further back."


Rodriguez said Miami Beach police officers, Ocean Rescue and Fire Rescue officials immediately responded to the scene.  

Ocean Rescue personnel swam to one of the victims, Maria Perez. Rodriguez said they placed her on a rescue board and brought her back to shore to be transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center.

"The police tried to get people out of the way so they could clear the view and get her to the ambulance, so they can get her to the hospital as soon as possible," witness Roniel Constantine said.  

Perez died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

According to Rodriguez, Officer Lee Claire rescued a man, identified as Eleazor Rangel, 39, on his Marine Patrol boat and took the victim to the marina where he met Fire Rescue personnel.  

The remaining four victims, Juan Rodriguez, 37, two 11-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy, were able to make it to shore with the assistance of bystanders, Rodriguez said.

All of the surviving swimmers were taken to the hospital, where they are listed in stable condition.

Investigators believe the family from West Palm Beach got caught in a rip current.

Below are a few tips from Miami Beach police on how to get away from a rip current:

1) Stay calm.
2) Don't fight the current.
3) Escape by swimming laterally, and then at an angle toward shore.
4) If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water.
5) If you feel you will be unable to reach shore, call and wave for help.

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