Rescuers suggest more warning signs for Pass-a-Grille Beach

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The drowning-related death of a woman who was trying to rescue her children from a strong current has caused concerns over safety at one of the Tampa Bay area’s most popular beaches.

Samar Aboukhdair, 36, died after trying to rescue four of her children caught in a strong current at the southern tip of Pass-a-Grille Beach Saturday evening.  All of the children survived. 

Water currents are known to be violent where it happened because it’s where the Intracostal opens up into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Richard and Laura Grande helped pull some of the children to safety.  They say the single sign warning of the danger isn’t enough, and more need to be done to keep the public safe.

“There’s nothing, no lifeguard, no boats, nothing down here,” Richard Grande said. 

In 2018 records show there have been nine drowning or near-drowning related incidents on St. Pete Beach. 

Mayor Alan Johnson says this latest drowning has caught the attention of the city. 

Johnson says there are warning signs, and that St. Pete Beach is “swim at your own risk.”  

"Right now it's swim at your own risk. You can post it all you want, but sometimes people go in the water when they really shouldn’t,” Johnson said. 

Johnson says perhaps more should be done.  He says there are conversations over more, and larger, signs warning of the danger along with the possibility of emergency lines that can allow someone to throw a flotation device out to someone in distress. 

Johnson says there are no lifeguards because St. Pete Beach is mostly considered private, owned by resorts.   He does say there’s a possibility the could follow the action of Clearwater Beach and put guards on the public section known as Pass-a-Grille. 

“We possibly could, it’s one thing we should consider I would guess,” Johnson said.  “A lot of that has to do with, if we are putting lifeguards out there then we have to take more responsibility for their safety than we are now.”

That would open the city of St. Pete Beach up to larger legal liabilities.  Johnson says the city will discuss how to better warn the public of the danger in that particular area.