Tragedy In Florida, Rip Tide Accident Rocks Family

A Pennsylvania couple, Brian Warter, 51, and Erica Wishard, 48, tragically drowned while vacationing with their six children in Florida. They were caught in a rip current at Stuart Beach on Hutchinson Island, a beautiful barrier island on Florida’s southeastern coast.

The family of eight was enjoying the ocean when the parents and two of their teenage children were swept away by the powerful current. Despite the teens’ efforts to break free and help their parents, the situation became too dangerous, forcing them to swim back to shore. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office reported that lifeguards quickly located Warter and Wishard and began performing CPR. They were then transported to Cleveland Clinic North by paramedics, but sadly, despite the life-saving efforts in the ambulance and at the hospital, both were pronounced dead.

Earlier that Thursday, Martin County Fire Rescue had posted warnings on Facebook about rough surf and rip currents, advising beachgoers to be cautious. They mentioned that red flags were flying at several beaches, including Jensen Beach, Stuart Beach, and Hobe Sound, indicating dangerous swimming conditions.

The post, made at 11:31 a.m., highlighted that only strong swimmers should enter the water due to expected rip currents. Just two hours later, a 911 call reported the missing swimmers.

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that can pull swimmers away from shore. Hutchinson Island’s informational travel page on Facebook shared tips on how to avoid and escape rip currents:

1. Heed Red Flags: If the beach flag is red, do not enter the water.
2. Observe Before Entering: Watch the water before jumping in, even on green flag days.
3. Avoid Calm Areas: Do not enter the water where waves aren’t breaking, as these can indicate rip currents.
4. Monitor for Shifts: Always keep an eye on the water, as rip currents can shift.
5. Stay Calm: If caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Float, wave for help, and try to swim parallel to the shore.

These signs are posted at every beach, guarded or unguarded, to help visitors stay safe. If you’re not sure about the conditions, always ask a lifeguard for advice.

In the wake of this tragedy, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office’s Crisis Intervention Team is assisting the couple’s six children until other family members can arrive in Florida. Our hearts go out to the family during this incredibly difficult time.

Remember, the ocean can be as dangerous as it is beautiful. Always take beach warnings seriously, swim at guarded beaches, and educate yourself and your loved ones about rip currents. Stay safe out there, folks.


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