PASS-A-GRILLE BEACH (FOX 13) - A Polk County mother has died after trying to rescue her children from drowning. The incident happened Saturday evening at the southern end of Pass-A-Grille Beach.
According to investigators, 36-year-old Samar Aboukhdair took her six children and two of her neighbor's children to the beach on Saturday.
Shortly after 6 p.m., four of the children began screaming from the water after they became stuck in a strong rip current.
Several good Samaritans, including Richard and Laura Grande, rushed into the water to helped rescue the children. Deputies said Aboukhdair also got in the water to help, but she ended up stuck in the rip current.
Richard and Laura helped pull the kids, between the ages 5 and 13, to safety.
"You could just see the current pulling them out, the kids were screaming and crying," Laura Grande recalled.
When emergency crews arrived, they pulled Aboukhdair from the water. She was rushed to a hospital in critical condition, and died on Sunday.
Richard is no stranger to tragedy, the New Yorker worked Ground Zero following the September 11th attacks. Richard says this was different.
"Being that they were all kids, this was a different ball game, it hit me real hard."
All of the children are expected to recover.
Posted signs warn of strong rip currents at Pass-A-Grille Beach, the Grandes say that is not enough.
"There's not one line to throw out, not safety jackets, not lifeguards," Grande exclaimed.
The Grandes are hoping the city takes notice of the dangers, allowing some good to come from a tragedy.
"I am going to think of this family and these children for the rest of my life, it's something that will never leave."
The incident remains under investigation.