HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies say three people drowned at Apollo Beach Nature Preserve over the weekend.
Rajeev Philip went to the University of South Florida with one of the victims, Janosh Purackal. He says “I just began to weep because I was just beginning to process that yeah, he’s not really here and sharing that in person with my parents, it was a very emotional moment.”READ MORE: Ghosts of Ybor City
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says Purackal was swept away by a strong current last Friday.
“He was incredibly smart, but probably the biggest characteristic is very faithful. Especially from a Christian perspective. He really loved his faith and was very committed to the church,” said Philip.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Officials say Purackal and his three-year-old son, Daniel both got caught in the current. Another man, Kristoff Murray, went in to try to save them. Officials say no one survived.
Austin Flannery with the National Weather Service in Tampa and says “It breaks all of our hearts to hear that something as tragic as this happens.”
Flannery says he does everything he can to help people be aware of the dangers of rip currents.
“Education is the best way forward to help everybody move forward,” said Flannery.READ MORE: Atlanta HBCU Students Demand Better Housing Conditions, More Funding
Flannery says rip currents are narrow currents of water that are rapidly rushing away from the shoreline.
“They are very dangerous. The fastest rip currents can pull you out in a speed of five miles an hour, which is faster than an olympic swimmer,” said Flannery.
He says if you get caught in the current, don’t try to fight or swim against it.
“The important thing to do is swim parallel to the shoreline. That is the most important thing you can do until you feel the rip current is no longer pulling you out,” said Flannery.
As the loved ones of a hero and two innocent family members are grieving, Philip says he hopes this story can save other people’s lives.
“I guess it’s important that awareness be there because at least there’s something in your head, you know, “I have to be careful,'” said Philip.MORE NEWS: Drive-Thru Pumpkin Patch Put On By Sheriff Chad Chronister
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve is a pretty safe area and a drowning like this hasn’t occurred there before.