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Killer Currents Plague Florida

March 25, 2004|From Associated Press

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Treacherous rip currents along Florida's Atlantic coast in the last week have killed at least four beachgoers, led to dozens of rescues and forced lifeguards to issue an unpopular warning in the middle of spring break: Stay out of the water.

One current was so overpowering that an 83-year-old woman, Madeline Roberts, was dragged away north of Palm Beach after a wave knocked her down as she took a stroll along the water's edge Sunday. Rescuers pulled her out along with an 82-year-old woman who had jumped in to save her. Roberts survived; the friend died hours later.

This week's deaths were all blamed on rip currents, which are rushing channels of water. Although the currents, often incorrectly called riptides, do not drag swimmers under water, many people panic, become tired and drown.

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