Sheriff Warns Swimmers After ‘Deadliest’ US Beach Claims Seven Lives, Including Former NFL QB

An empty lifeguard chair with a double "No Swimming" red flag at Jacksonville Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Authorities in Bay County, Florida, warned beachgoers on Wednesday of treacherous conditions on the county’s beaches after multiple people drowned, including a former NFL quarterback.

“Strong currents and surf continue on the sandy beaches of Bay County,” the warning from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office read, urging beachgoers to “exercise caution” and observe the single red flags posted at the beaches.

The warning came on the heels of a rash of drownings off Florida’s beaches, including retired firefighter Richard Alford, who drowned off Panama City Beach, and former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett, who drowned on a beach in Destin, according to the Panama City News Herald.

Panama City Beach, one of Bay County’s beaches, was the deadliest beach in the United States from January to June, with seven drownings since June 15, according to the National Weather Service(RELATED: ‘Pretty Much Limp’: Former NFL Star Describes Saving Niece And Son From Drowning After Weeks In ICU)

The tragedies were a matter of concern for Panama City Beach Councilman Paul Casto. “Everything is on the table at this point,” he said, indicating that additional steps to prevent the drownings, such as steeper fines, a zero-tolerance policy for ignoring double red flags and hiring additional lifeguards and code enforcement officers, according to the Panama City News Herald.

Single or double red flags have been flying in Panama City Beach since June 12. Still, some vacationers defy the warnings, Casto lamented, and there seems to be a shortage of code officers to enforce the penalties of $500 for first offenders and $1,000 for second offenders, according to the Herald report.

Beachgoers should consult the local beach forecast before going to the beach, take advice from lifeguards and swim at a beach with lifeguards, according to the National Weather Service.