Rescuers recently formed a human chain to save a family of nine from drowning in Panama City Beach, FL, according to The Panama City News Herald.
The News Herald reported Tuesday that Roberta Ursrey and her husband, mother, sons and nephews almost died during the incident last Saturday.
The Ursreys reportedly became caught in the rip current off Panama Beach’s shores, resulting in all nine family members getting trapped in roughly 15 feet of water.
Jessica Simpson and her husband, who were purportedly enjoying a beach-side dinner Saturday, ultimately inspired a human chain that saved the Ursreys’ lives.
Simpson said the chain eventually swelled to 80 people stretching over 100 yards to help save the Ursreys while they were endangered.
Some Twitter users on Tuesday expressed wonder at the rescue effort, which resulted in all nine swimmers reaching safety.
The News Herald reported that Ursrey’s mother suffered a heart attack during the incident and nearly died.
“I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day,” she said Monday. “It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going.’”
Simmons recalled rushing to the Ursreys on a boogie board while her husband and other rescuers began forming a chain to pull them back on shore.
“These people are not drowning today,” she told herself. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”
“It was the most remarkable thing to see,” Simmons added of the chain, which included some people who could not swim who stayed in the shallows.
“These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.”
Ursrey said her mother is still recuperating in the hospital but that her family is healthy overall outside of her nephew breaking his hand.
“I am so grateful,” she said. “Those people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here."