2 men die in strong ocean current on Miami Beach

Good Samaritan who jumped in to help pulled underwater

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The body of a swimmer who went missing Wednesday afternoon off Miami Beach was found Thursday morning.

Miami Beach police have identified him as Kirk Munguia, 42, of Miami-Dade County.

Police and witnesses say Munguia and his 11-year-old daughter were out in the water on a yellow raft when they started to struggle.

A good Samaritan who jumped in to help was also pulled underwater. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead Wednesday. Police have identified him as Ariel Romero Velazquez, 49, of Hialeah.

[RELATED: Two GoFundMe pages have been set up for the victims’ families. Mungia was a Miami-Dade Aviation Department employee and a GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help assist his wife, Ana, and their daughter. A GoFundMe page for Romero Velazquez, who worked at Miami-Dade County Internal Services Department, has been set up to help his family with funeral costs.]

A lifeguard went into the water and was able to save the 11-year-old girl.

Horrified beachgoers watched Wednesday evening as rescuers searched for the missing Munguia.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and U.S. Coast Guard combed the waters into Wednesday night for the father of the girl, but Miami Beach Rescue said they had to call off the search because the water was rough and it had been all day.

The search resumed Thursday morning, and his body was found around 10 a.m.

Sky 10 was over the scene after the body of missing swimmer off Miami Beach was found Thursday morning. (WPLG)

Miami Beach police said the calls for help came Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.

According to authorities, four swimmers were in distress behind the Castle Beach Club building on Collins Avenue near 54th Street.

They said it all started when a man, now identified as Velazquez, entered the water to rescue Munguia and his 11-year-old daughter.

“We were out here, and we were watching the water and we saw the guy go down, once, twice, and we saw the lifeguard trying to get closer to him,” witness Janice Clark said. “As he got closer, he went down again I didn’t see him anymore after that.”

Fire rescue workers arrive to help locate a missing swimmer off Miami Beach. (WPLG)

Velazquez was eventually pulled out and rushed to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“His stomach was enlarged from the water and his face was really dark and they were working on him,” Clark said.

“It was that quick, in the blink of an eye, that those two were in trouble,” another witness Myron Chatwin said.

Greg Chin, communications and digital marketing director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, sent out a statement about both men’s deaths:

“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the tragic loss of Kirk Munguia, who was a dearly loved member of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with the family of Ariel Romero Velazquez, who was also part of the Miami-Dade County family.”

Miami Beach Fire Rescue says it was a rough day on the water Wednesday and they had at least 40 rescues.

They remind beachgoers to always swim near a lifeguard and that when there’s a red flag, it’s not a good time to go into the water.


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