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Palm Beach County first responders work to address recent drownings

Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue is looking into adding 'life raft stations' in areas with lots of water activity
A Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue lifeguard on duty on April 22, 2022.jpg
Posted at 11:48 PM, Jun 26, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Three drowning deaths in two weeks from Palm Beach to the Treasure Coast. The question on everyone’s mind is how to prevent another.

"I think there does need to be more signage," said Florida tourist, Glender Chandler.

A call for more signage, more lifeguards, and more warnings.

Brian Warter, 51, and Erica Wishart, 48, drowned at Stuart Beach on June 20, 2024.

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Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue chief, John Meskiel, said, “That has us looking—as ocean rescues and first responders— how can we help mitigate this? How can we prevent this from happening?”

He refers to the tragic death of an 8-year-old boy that happened two weeks ago in Boynton Beach.

“He was the sweetest boy that will ever be,” said Roxanne Batista.

Saul Cerrato Jr. fell off the seawall into the Intracoastal and drowned.

A week later there were another two drownings in Martin County. A couple died after getting caught in a rip current on an unguarded beach in Stuart.

Saul Cerrato, 8, pictured with his father, Saul Cerrato Sr.

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Meskiel said, “any fatality, any near-drowning, always bringing it back to the forefront in our minds of how can we prevent this? How could this have been avoided?”

In Palm Beach County they’re looking to add “life raft stations” in areas with lots of water activity.

“It has a 24-inch U.S. CG-approved life ring with a 200-foot rope also bright orange or bright red that we can throw that to the victim and hopefully get that life ring to them,” said Meskiel.

He believes this could be the solution, especially in areas like the Boynton Beach inlet where rough water conditions are common and dangerous.

Meskiel's says the ultimate goal is to make our waters safer.