ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A day at the beach turned to tragedy for a St. Petersburg family on Sunday.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office said 42-year-old Michael Stephens was at Pass-a-Grille Beach with his three daughters and a friend when they noticed the current getting stronger.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, two of the daughters and their friend were able to get out of the water but Michael Stephens and his 10-year-old daughter, Isabella were swept out into the Gulf by a strong current.
The family called 911 and multiple units from St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue, the U.S. Coast Guard and an air unit from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area.
The sheriff’s office said just before 8 p.m. the air unit spotted Michael and his daughter about a half mile off-shore.
Ashley Lewis was at the dog park near the beach at the time and noticed the strong current.
“I was just like, ‘the current is insane.’ If I had gone out there it would have just swept me away,” Lewis said.
Just before sunset, she noticed rescue units coming to the area.
“I thought to myself, ‘If there is somebody out there, the outcome is not going to be good.'”
Lewis said she watched a helicopter circle overhead and noticed the conditions in the Gulf were not making it easy for the first responders.
“They were fighting the current, it was very strong. The water was very choppy yesterday,” she added. “I was even watching the helicopter, thinking the helicopter has been up there for a long time fighting this wind.”
Rescue units brought the father and daughter to shore, but efforts to revive them were not successful. They were both taken to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead.
“I just feel so bad for the family, but conditions yesterday were horrible.”