UPDATE: At least three people rescued from ocean off Singer Island

Jeff Serino could see it coming. He’s seen it before.

As the lifelong surfer prepared to tackle a “big set” of crashing waves in the Atlantic Ocean off Singer Island, he noticed an older couple in ankle-deep water at the shore. Serino knew the illusion of calm was potentially deadly. And before he could act, “we saw the white water come and take (the) couple off their feet."

Serino, a friend, a nearby lifeguard, and numerous agencies — even the Coast Guard — helped rescue the two people, and at least one other, on yet another day of seasonal waves and rip currents that washed away both beaches and people.

The National Weather Service had posted a coastal flood and high surf advisory through Tuesday night and warned waves close to shore would be in the 10-foot range Tuesday and still as high as 8 feet Wednesday and Thursday. A high risk of rip currents was set to continue through Friday.

Lifeguards from Lake Worth to Jupiter were warning people not to go in the water, and to be careful even on the beach. In Lake Worth, lifeguards strung yellow caution tape blocking entrances during high tide for fear people would get washed away by the big surf.

“We just want to make sure no one does anything foolish,” Mathew Botts, chief of Lake Worth Ocean Rescue, told The Palm Beach Post on Monday. “We don’t want people getting swept out to sea because they were taking a selfie and a wave gets them.”

In Tuesday’s incident, Riviera Beach Fire Rescue said the two people were on the beach near the Marriott Ocean Pointe resort on Ocean Avenue south of Blue Heron Boulevard when the wave hit them.

“The water came in too quick,” Serino said. “They kind of tumbled. They got pushed over the jetty, over the rocks.”

Serino said the waves pushed the two as much as 50 feet.

By then, he said, “my buddy was already jumping in and I (got) on my surfboard to get to the lady.” He said the man appeared unhurt but the woman had been knocked around the rocks and was in trouble. He said he called 911 and the Coast Guard was “out there really quick.” He added, “If they weren’t there, they would have been in really bad shape.”

Besides the Coast Guard, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, fire rescue teams from Palm Beach County and Riviera Beach all helped in the rescue, the sheriff’s office said.

Riviera Beach Fire Rescue said the two were taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach but did not provide updates on their conditions. The incident occurred in Palm Beach Shores, but Riviera Beach handles emergency medical services for the town, a town clerk said.

The Coast Guard said in a separate release that about 9:20 a.m., it launched a 33-foot boat that pulled one person from the water; it said the sheriff’s office rescued the second person.

Ben Demonstranti, a lifeguard for the town of Palm Beach Shores, said he was just coming on duty at about 9:30 Tuesday morning when he heard calls on his radio regarding two people in distress. He said he raced to the beach and found a man in his 60s struggling to to return to shore.

“He was very exhausted and tired. He didn’t have much left in him,” Demonstranti said. He said the man refused medical treatment.

Demonstranti also said a woman riding a water scooter was believed to have struck rocks on a jetty. By the time he arrived, the Riviera Beach police marine unit had picked up the woman and taken her to fire-rescue crews waiting at Sailfish Marina.

Demonstranti estimated waves at the beach at 8 to 10 feet.

“When we have big surf like this, more and more are coming with these Jet Skis towing in surfing,” he said. “Sunday, I had a Jet Ski hit the jetty. Fire Rescue treated him and released him. But we had another almost fatal incident on Sunday with a Jet Ski.”

Serino, the Palm Beach Shores surfer, who’s 35, said he’s surfed the stretch of Singer Island most of his life and even then he has great deference for the dangerous waves. He said he’s seen numerous instances of people being washed into the ocean.

“That’s a really dangerous spot,” he said. “We do this day in and day out on the water. Fishing, too, and diving and surfing. If you’re not comfortable and experienced in the water, definitely not a day to be giving it a go.”

Reported by staff writer Julius Whigham II and staff photographer Allen Eyestone in Palm Beach Shores and staff writers Eliot Kleinberg and Jorge Milian in West Palm Beach. Staff writer Kimberly Miller contributed to this story.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Trump News Today: Likely arrival, departure times for Mar-a-Lago weekend visit released
Trump News Today: Likely arrival, departure times for Mar-a-Lago weekend visit released

Air Force One is expected to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport at about 6:45 p.m. on Friday and leave on Sunday by 5 p.m., according to an alert to pilots issued by the Federal Aviation Administration this morning.  The visit will be Trump's 15th as president and fifth this year. His last visit was March 2-3. He made two other visits...
Cat reunited with owner 14 years after hurricane disappearance
Cat reunited with owner 14 years after hurricane disappearance

Perry Martin probably can’t stop pondering about his cat. In 2004, the orange tabby Thomas 2, or simply just “T2,” disappeared.  It happened when the Fort Pierce man moved into a friend’s house in Stuart after Hurricane Jeanne stormed through the area, according to TCPalm. The retired K-9 officer grieved, but then...
NEW: Lake Worth-area man, 38,  accused of forcing teen to perform sex acts
NEW: Lake Worth-area man, 38,  accused of forcing teen to perform sex acts

A suburban Lake Worth man was arrested Friday after he allegedly forced a teenager to perform sex acts.  Johhan Anthony Suazo, 38, faces one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Saturday on a $50,000 bond. His arrest follows a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office investigation that...
Fun and free things to do with kids in Palm Beach County this weekend
Fun and free things to do with kids in Palm Beach County this weekend

There are so many amazing and COMPLETELY FREE things to do with your kids in Palm Beach County this weekend.  Here are our picks for the best events. We’ve also included a few for next weekend so you can get a head start on planning. To get this weekly listing delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our Palm Beach Parenting...
NEW: Publix stores in Gardens, near Boca sell winning Fantasy 5 tickets
NEW: Publix stores in Gardens, near Boca sell winning Fantasy 5 tickets

Two of Tuesday’s six winning Fantasy 5 tickets were sold in Publix Super Markets in Palm Beach County, the Florida Lottery said. The Publix off Glades Road near State Road 7 west of Boca Raton and the Publix on Hood Road near Alternate State Road A1A in Palm Beach Gardens each sold one ticket with the winning combination...
More Stories