High tides and rip currents made it dangerous for people hitting the beach over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
At least two people drowned at Volusia County Beaches this weekend.
Volusia County Beach Safety officials say their lifeguards rescued nearly another 300 people from the ocean, 17 times more than they did on Labor Day last year.
Beach Safety officials attribute the high surf and strong rip currents to the effects of Hurricanes Franklin and Idalia.
A total of 286 people were pulled from the ocean this weekend. 184 of those happened on Labor Day alone.
“Those were all water rescues,” Volusia County Beach Safety Captain A.J. Miller said. “Whether someone gets in trouble, they get out too far, they get disoriented from the surf…that’s when we go and we pull them out of the water.”
Capt. Miller says over Labor Day weekend in 2022, they only recorded 16 water rescues.
At least two people who visited Volusia County beaches over the weekend weren’t so lucky.
On Friday, a 14-year-old boy drowned while bodyboarding. According to the Volusia County sheriff’s office, the boy left the water briefly and returned without his board. 20 minutes later, a lifeguard found him floating in the water. The boy was initially taken to Halifax Hospital and was eventually transferred to Arnold Palmer hospital in Orlando where he died Tuesday.
On Monday, beach safety officials say two sisters in their 50s from Louisiana were both found floating separately in the water approximately 50 to 100 feet from each other. Neither of the women had a pulse as they were taken to the hospital.
One sister died. However, first-responders were eventually able to restore a pulse for the other, who remains in the hospital.
Miller says the surf has subsided slightly since the weekend, but beachgoers still need to be vigilant.
“The water’s going to start looking more inviting as this week goes on,” Capt. Miller said. “That doesn’t mean it’s safe. We’re still going to have very strong rip currents.”
The two fatalities over the weekend bring the total in Volusia County to eight for the year, a new record Miller says.
Before 2023, Capt. Miller says the highest number of fatalities they’d seen in a calendar year was six.