Two white trucks with Walton County Sheriff's Office logos drive down the beach on white sand.

June 25, 2023

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— Two people have died following drowning incidents along Walton County Beaches in less than three days despite the courageous efforts of first responders all week long during rough surf conditions.

Thursday afternoon, South Walton Fire District transported a man in critical condition following a water rescue in Blue Mountain Beach.

Beach patrons notified SWFD’s Tower 31 lifeguard that bystanders had pulled the male, who was unresponsive, from the water nearly half a mile to the west of the tower.

The lifeguard quickly responded to the area and began life-saving measures. Additional beach safety units arrived along with Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies to assist.

Unfortunately, the 65-year-old from Coppell, Texas later died.

On Saturday afternoon, Walton County Sheriff’s Office and South Walton Fire District Beach Safety Units were called to Scenic Gulf Drive after a 9-1-1 caller reported multiple people struggling in the water.

SWFD Beach Safety personnel and WCSO deputies arrived on the scene and immediately entered the water, rescuing two men and a teenager and providing life-saving measures. All three were transported by SWFD to a local hospital.

One of the men, a 58-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Both incidents occurred when single red flags were flying. However, surf conditions prompted double red flags for several days on Walton County Beaches during which both South Walton Fire District and Walton County Sheriff’s Office responded to numerous water rescues and drowning incidents.

Our agencies continue to educate those visiting our beaches on the dangers of the Gulf and its unforgiving nature. We encourage those who plan to take a trip to the beach to swim near a lifeguard and know how to break the grip of a rip current. If you cannot swim, stay out of the water.

The choice to enter the water under any circumstance that risks the lives of you or your loved ones also puts the lives of our first responders in jeopardy. Know the flag system and respect it.