VENICE — Three swimmers at the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier were rescued in two separate incidents just hours apart Tuesday.
Jim Daugherty, who works the pier’s bait shop, saw a boy yelling for help on the north side of the pier around 7 p.m.
The boy had been whisked out by a rip current and was holding on to a barnacle-covered cement piling, fighting a strong current.
From above, Daugherty threw down a rope, which the boy held onto. Two good Samaritans made their way out to the boy, bringing him out of the current.
A city rescue crew member assisted the boy back to shore.
Lily Bakulski, an employee at Sharky’s Restaurant, said the child’s mother was nearby with a tear in her eyes.
“He looked fine. He was just shaken up,” Bakulski said. “I think she was just glad he was OK.”
It’s the first time a Venice firefighter used a surf board during a rescue, Venice Fire Department Public Information Officer Lt. Brett Wassermann said.
“At the pier, 95% of rescues are going to be close to shore,” he said. “After years of training they finally pulled someone out of the ocean on a board. It was a nice feeling.”
It was the second call that day at the pier. Earlier, Venice Fire and Rescue responded to a call about two older women in distress.
The feet of one of the women had been swept out from beneath her, witnesses said. She and another woman held onto each other until help arrived.
“They got caught in rip currents,” Wasserman said. “Lifeguards were able to get on scene fairly quickly and both swimmers were brought in on rescue board.”
All three rescued that day refused transport to a hospital.
Wasserman said the Fire Department could not provide the identities of the victims due to Marsy’s Law and HIPPA rules.
“Our area is prone to rip currents,” Wasserman said. “The surf has been rough the last few days thanks to Hurricane Delta. That didn’t help.”
Scott Montgomery, lifeguard chief with Sarasota County, began his career with the county at Venice Beach in 1983. He said his crews have reported no rip current rescues this month.
“We’ve been having surf action from some of the storms out in the Gulf, but any time on an open beach, rip currents can be present,” Montgomery said. “We tell folks be ever vigilant, and swim where we have lifeguards. Where lifeguards are present they will fly beach warning flags, yellow, or red, which means dangerous conditions.”