Law and Order: Beachgoers should be wary of rip currents


Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

With Tropical Storm Noel churning south of Florida, and an area of high pressure to the north, officials are warning that conditions are ripe for strong rip currents along the east coast of Florida.

And Gainesville resident Shannon Nelson said she learned just how dangerous a rip current can be during a trip to the beach last weekend.

After spending Saturday at Disney World, Nelson took her 9-year-old son, Kade Spiers, and his 14-year-old friend, Eric Raygada, for a day at Cocoa Beach on Sunday.

Nelson said it was around 1 p.m. when she heard her son screaming for help as a rip current had carried Kade and Eric out to sea.

"I had laryngitis, so I was trying to scream but people couldn't hear my screams," Nelson said. "It was like a dream. I could not get to him."

Soon other people saw the two boys floundering in the ocean, Nelson said, and a 16-year-old boy and another adult managed to pull Nelson's son and his friend to safety.

Nelson said she didn't even have time to think of dialing 911 for help, and she also didn't get the names of the people who saved her son.

"I thanked everybody that helped us, but thanks is never good enough to repay someone for saving your child," she said.

Safety time: Clocks and smoke alarms should go hand-in-hand when daylight-saving time ends this weekend, Alachua County Fire Rescue reminded residents.

Homeowners should move their clocks back one hour by Sunday, when daylight-saving time ends at 2 a.m.

Firefighters at Alachua County Fire Rescue said the time change is a good reminder for residents to also change batteries in their smoke detectors.

Other recommendations for smoke alarms are to test them once a month, replace batteries if the low battery alarm beeps, replace smoke detectors every 10 years, install at least one smoke detector on each floor, place smoke detectors on ceilings or high on walls and avoid installing them near windows and doors.

The agency will install the detectors for people who can't afford them. Call (352)384-3101 for more information.

High-flying award: The work of the Joint Aviation Unit for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the Gainesville Police Department was recognized with a national award, presented last month.

Gainesville Police Capt. Ed Van Winkle, who is the unit's commander for the police department, and Chief Pilot Richard Bray, a deputy with the Sheriff's Office, accepted the award for small-unit excellence in aviation from the International Association of Chiefs of Police in New Orleans in October, the police department reported. The award focused on the unit's safety record, as well as its operation's success.

In December, sheriff's deputies in one of the unit's helicopters were able to locate two missing Gainesville teenagers, lost in a swampy area west of SW 34th Street.

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