Attempt to save two teens from rough seas turns deadly
SINGER ISLAND, Fla. (WSVN) -- Two girls were swept away on a South Florida beach, sending strangers rushing into the ocean, and one would-be rescuer would never surface.
Authorities have called off the search for Butch Garlinghouse, a man swept into the Atlantic Ocean, who helped save the two girls.
The waters off Singer Island were rough Saturday afternoon. It was full of rip currents and heavy waves when two 9-year-old girls were swept into the ocean.
Mike Delaar was nearby with his children and saw the girls struggling for air. "I heard some kids screaming out in the water," said Delaar. "I took my shirt off, threw my phone and glasses down, and ran in to swim out and save them."
He and a few other Good Samaritans dove in.
The two girls, drifted away fast. "The one girl I first got to, she seemed calm," said Delaar. "I said, 'keep treading water. I'm gonna go get the other girl, who's very scared,' had that girl hop on my back and swam with her to the other girl, so I had both of the girls together."
He handed the two kids to their father, who also dove in to help.
A passing boat plucked the group out of the water, but when heads were counted on shore, it became clear that somebody was missing.
A friend of the family, who had jumped in to help could not be found.
After searching for the 44-year-old by air and water, rescue crews stopped their search.
Officials said the waters were no place for any swimmers.
Delaar barely made it back to shore. "Even as I was swimming in," said Delaar, "I realized I was getting pulled out. Finally, a wave pushed me beyond the rip current, and I could see I was getting closer, so I gave it my all to swim back to shore."
It's still unclear how the two girls got so far out. Some witnesses said they were swimming. Police believe they may have been fishing on a pier when a wave knocked them into the ocean. They are expected to be OK.
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