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Florida woman drowns after getting caught in rip current

At least 300 people needed rescue off Volusia County over the weekend.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — A woman drowned Saturday evening after she was caught in a rip current on Florida's east coast.

The 68-year-old from Cocoa Beach went out into an unguarded area of the beach around 8 p.m. when she and other people began to struggle in the water, according to WKMG-TV, citing the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.

An off-duty sergeant reportedly was leaving for the day when he noticed what was going on just offshore. Officials told the TV station that the woman was brought to shore where the sergeant performed CPR.

She died at an area hospital.

WKMG-TV reports 328 people needed rescue over the weekend along the Volusia County coastline amid 2-3 foot seas.

A rip current is a narrow channel of fast-moving water that moves away from the shoreline. Waves crash onto the shoreline and pile water – eventually, that water has to go somewhere, so it jets outward in between sandbars. The water can move pretty quickly, sometimes up to 8 feet per second, according to the National Weather Service.  

Here's a photo showing rip currents spotted from above last year in Pensacola Beach, Florida: 

Credit: Taylor Busbee (Coastal Local on Instagram)
Several rip currents spotted from above in Pensacola Beach, Florida.

It's a misconception that rip currents drag swimmers underneath the water. Instead, they quickly pull the person away from the beach. The swimmer might try to swim back to shore against the rip and eventually become too exhausted. That's how people drown.

The best way to escape a rip current is to keep calm and swim parallel to the shoreline until the pull is no longer felt.

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