Texas man drowns in Gulf of Mexico in South Walton, 23 others rescued from rough surf
MIRAMAR BEACH — A Texas man drowned Tuesday while attempting to save a young boy in the Gulf of Mexico, and more than 20 other people were rescued from the rough surf.
A husband and father, identified as 54-year-old Tim Bowne, died at a local hospital after helping a boy in distress in Miramar Beach.
The boy was able to make it back to shore, but Bowne was found slumped over in the water, according to a press release from the Walton County Sheriff's Office. Deputies responded to the beach about 2:55 p.m. to try to rescue Bowne.
A registered nurse who was at the scene initiated CPR and first responders continued life-saving measures after they arrived minutes later, WCSO reported.
Bowne was taken to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital Emerald Coast, where he was pronounced dead.
The Sheriff’s Office, Walton County Fire Rescue and South Walton Fire District performed 23 other water rescues at beaches across the county Tuesday. That brought the total number of rescues to 33 for the week.
South Walton Beach Safety Director David Vaughan said the rescues occurred between 11:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. and put a strain on first responders.
Single-red flags indicated potentially dangerous and life-threatening conditions at the beaches Tuesday, but only double-red flags strictly prohibit people from entering the water.
"We had simultaneous water rescue calls going on in different parts of the county, which happened several times after 1:30 p.m., and we got up to the point where we decided we can’t effectively respond to this many water rescues if we’re allowing people to enter the water at all," Vaughan said Wednesday.
County officials decided to change the warning flags to double-red that afternoon, and they will fly until at least Friday.
“In an abundance of caution based on yesterday’s rescue response and what we anticipate the conditions will be very shortly, we’re going to go ahead and stay double-red," Vaughan said.
Vaughan said beachgoers need to take the flag system seriously, and even a toe in the water is too much when double-red flags are flying. “Treat the Gulf with the respect that it deserves,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office expressed condolences for the drowning victim’s family and friends, and Vaughan commended first responders on their efforts to save many other lives Tuesday.
“One life is too many, but we saved a bunch of lives yesterday and we’re really grateful to everyone who made that effort,” Vaughan said.