ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — A man and his 10-year-old daughter died after being swept offshore at a Florida beach on Sunday evening, officials said. The two victims were taken to a hospital in critical condition, but they later were pronounced dead Monday morning, according to deputies.
Detectives said Michael Stephens, 42, was in the water with his daughters Isabella, 10, and Brittany Stephens, 20, and Brittany’s boyfriend, 20-year-old Jessie Johnson, when they noticed a strengthening rip current. According to deputies, Johnson and Brittany Stephens managed to get out, but when Johnson went back to get Michael Stephens and Isabella, they were already too far from the shore.
While Johnson tried to save the father and daughter, Michael’s 13-year-old daughter, Trinity Stephens, called 911 and gave the phone to a bystander for help. A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office air unit spotted Michael and Isabella Stephens about half a mile from the shore, and a marine unit was able to get them out of the water.
Veronica Meek, a witness visiting from Colorado, described what she saw when they were brought to shore. “I saw a younger woman being pulled off of a boat,” Meek said. “She was pretty bloated, not looking well. They did CPR on her.”
“And then I saw an older gentleman being pulled off of a boat about five, ten minutes after her, fairly bloated and unwell looking,” she added. “He was getting CPR done on him as well.”
The sheriff’s office said the incident is not suspicious.