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Pennsylvania parents vacationing in Florida drown after getting caught in rip current

HUTCHINSON ISLAND, Fla. - A Pennsylvania couple drowned while vacationing in Florida with their six children. Brian Warter, 51, and Erica Wishard, 48, died after being caught in strong rip currents while swimming at the beach on Hutchinson Island, officials said. The couple's two teenage children who were with them in the water were also pulled by the rip currents, but managed to escape. Police say they tried to help their parents, but "it became too dangerous, and they were forced to swim ashore." Martin County Ocean Rescue pulled the couple from the ocean and began CPR on the beach. The couple was brought to a nearby hospital where police say they died. A Crisis Intervention Team Deputy assisted the children throughout the day as they waited for other family members to arrive.

A Pennsylvania couple vacationing in Florida with their six children drowned Thursday afternoon after getting caught in a rip current, local authorities reported.

The family of eight was visiting Stuart Beach on Hutchinson Island – a barrier island located on Florida’s southeastern coast – when the parents and two teenage children were swept out by a rip current while swimming, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

While the two teens were able to escape the current, their parents, identified as Brian Warter, 51, and Erica Wishard, 48, were not able to.

“The kids were able to break the current and attempted to help their parents, but it became too dangerous and they were forced to swim ashore,” the agency wrote on Facebook.

Warter and Wishard were located by Martin County Ocean Rescue lifeguards, who began CPR on shore before the couple was transported to Cleveland Clinic North by Martin County Fire Rescue paramedics.

“Those life-saving efforts continued in the ambulance and at the hospital where doctors gave it every last effort before declaring the couple deceased,” the MCSO said.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Martin County Fire Rescue posted on Facebook that red flags were flying at Jensen Beach, Stuart Beach and the Hobe Sound.

A rough surf and rip current warning was also posted.

“Happy Thursday! The surf is 4-6 ft and there is a light drift heading north, so be aware if you chose(sic) to go in the ocean,” the post read. “The water temp is 77 degrees and there’s a(sic) ESE wind blowing about 15-20 mph. We suggest strong swimmers only because rip currents are expected. If you plan on heading to the beach, please visit one of our guarded beaches.”

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The post was made at 11:31 a.m. and a 911 call reporting missing swimmers came in at around 1:30 p.m., according to the fire service.

Hutchinson Island’s informational travel page on Facebook posted about the tragedy late Thursday and shared the following tips on how to avoid and escape rip currents:

1. If the flag at the beach is red, do not go in the water.

2. Watch the water before jumping in, even on green flag days.

3. Don’t enter the water where waves aren’t breaking.

4. Always watch the water as rip currents shift.

5. If you get caught in a rip current, do not panic and try to fight it. Float, wave for help and/or swim parallel to the shore.

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