At least 4 dead in last 10 days after swimming at Gulf beaches

Update: These deaths can likely be attributed to strong currents. However, impairment from toxins may have contributed to an already difficult situation. See videos at bottom for information on scientific testing of crystal clear water along the Gulf that revealed the presence of toxic oil.

Tragedies are on the rise for swimmers in the Gulf of Mexico. My heart and prayers are with the families who have lost a loved one. Please let your friends and relatives know about the risks to swimmers in the Gulf.

Potential Health Effects of Oil Spill, KRIV Channel 26 Houston (Fox), June 22, 2010:

Dr. Harish Seethamraju is a pulmonary specialist at Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Seethamraju says potential problems include wheezing and asthma, but that’s not all. “If they take a swim in these waters, the toxic chemicals can cause pneumonia and respiratory failure.” …

“We have never seen such enormous amounts of exposure.”

Pelham woman drowns in Orange Beach, along with young girl, Shelby County Reporter, July 3, 2010:

A Pelham woman and a 2-year-old girl drowned in Orange Beach, Ala., the evening of July 2, according to the Orange Beach Police Department. ...

The drownings occurred in the Gulf of Mexico close to Alabama 180, Pierce said. ...

Members of the vacation group said they last saw the victims at about 3:30 p.m. July 2, and thought the two had returned to the group’s condominium or swimming pool.

Beach visitors told police they were pulling Gordon from the ocean when someone noticed the 2-year-old still in the water.

65-year-old drowns behind Hidden Dunes Resort (UPDATE), Walton Sun, June 28, 2010:

The South Walton Fire District units took the man to Sacred Heart Hospital in cardiac arrest, said Deputy Chief Sean Hughes in a media release.

“The incident is under investigation by the medical examiner’s office to determine the actual cause of death,” Hughes said. The suspected drowning is the first in Walton County this season.

Walton County Beach Safety Director Gary Wise stressed the importance of paying attention to the posted beach flags. He said he flew red flags before the conditions met the criteria.

“The beach flags are flying for a reason. It wasn’t even a very strong current today. It was a very mild red flag day today … a borderline yellow day,” Wise said.

Area Records 2nd Drowning In 4 Days, WJGH Channel 7 Destin, June 28, 2010:

The First Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner is investigating the apparent drowning death of a 65-year-old man in the Gulf At Santa Rosa Beach in south Walton today.

Drowning victim ID'd; Battery dead in defibrillator, Destin Log, June 29, 2010:

One of the doctors along with a beach vendor pulled Hess from the water, Pike said Tuesday. The vendor, 21-year-old Elliot Chlebowski, told the sheriff’s deputy that he thought he felt a faint pulse while rescuing the man, the report states. ...

In addition to Pike, a doctor and a cardiologist took turns doing chest compressions, the report said. At one point, one of the doctors requested an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), and the deputy ran up to Hidden Dunes but could not locate one. ...

Hess’ cause of death has not been determined, said South Walton Fire District Deputy Chief Sean Hughes. He said results from an autopsy could take a week.

Name of drowning victim released, Panama City News Herald, June 25, 2010:

Authorities have released more details of a drowning that took place in gulf waters off Panama City Beach Richard Allen Linn, 52, of Remlap, Ala., died Thursday despite rescuers’ attempts to revive him. ...

Yellow flags were flying at the time, but Higgins noted that the undertow was strong, the report said. ...

Higgins found Linn floating face down in the water between the two sandbars. He brought Linn to shore and began CPR. EMS arrived shortly thereafter.

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