Indiana football player in coma after caught in current off Sies - WFLA News Channel 8

Indiana football player in coma after caught in current off Siesta Beach

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Isaac Griffith (Courtesy Indiana University Athletics) Isaac Griffith (Courtesy Indiana University Athletics)
SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) -

An Indiana University football player was placed in medically-induced coma after he was rescued from a rip current in Sarasota.

19-year-old Isaac Griffith was swimming at Siesta Key on Monday night, when he was pulled away from shore by the strong current. By the time he was saved, he was unconscious.

The story is incredibly frightening and one that could happen to anybody.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says at around 6:30 p.m. Monday Griffith was with some friends on Siesta Key. According to an incident report, Griffith had just finished having some drinks with his friends in a room and they decided to go out swimming on Siesta Beach.

As they were swimming, the current began to take them away from shore.

Griffith was taken 15-feet past a buoy and began to show signs of distress. A friend rescued him and pulled him to shore.

According to deputies, Griffith had a pulse, but was unconscious and his breathing was short and sporadic. The teen was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and his CAT scans came back as normal.

Griffith was a star wide receiver at his Indiana high school, and in 2013 was a redshirt freshman for the Indiana University Hoosiers football team. Griffith is a trained athlete, and yet not even he could handle the sheer force of a rip current.

"Being caught in a rip current, if you're not familiar with it, it’s very scary,” said Scott Montgomery, the Sarasota County Lifeguard manager. "It could happen at any time."

Montgomery says rip currents are formed when two strong currents collide, then make their way back to the gulf.

"A rip current looks a little different from the surrounding water. It’s usually darker in color and it has some foam to it, and you can actually see the current going away from the beachhead," he said.

Montgomery says if you're caught in one, stay calm and swim parallel to shore. And know your limits.

"You need to really know your own skills and abilities right before going into the water," said Montgomery. "Rip currents, usually, as they go back out into the gulf will go about ten, fifteen yards, and then they dissipate."

Isaac’s parents, Shannon and Kim Griffith are by their son’s side and deeply grateful for the prayers and support from friends and followers across the states. They have asked for privacy during their son’s recovery and shared the following statement:

“We deeply appreciate the prayers and outpouring of support coming to us through tweets, calls and messages, both from Florida and Indiana. We are seeing positive signs throughout the day and winning small battles that give us hope.”

According to Griffith's school bio, his father, Shannon Griffith, is the head coach of Manchester University in Indiana.

On his Twitter feed, Shannon Griffith said after hearing the news, he traveled to Sarasota with his wife Monday night and has been by Isaac’s side since.

In a statement, the IU Department of Athletics says, "We are aware of Isaac Griffith’s condition. Our prayers are with Isaac and his family and we ask Hoosier Nation to keep the Griffith family in their thoughts."

Beach-goers should note that there are 35 miles of beaches in Sarasota, but only three miles are monitored by lifeguards. This time of year, the lifeguard shifts end at 4:45 p.m., so people should be extra cautious if going out for a swim late in the afternoon.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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