Rip Current claims mom of three
On Wednesday, July 18 Longboat Key Police were called to the beach at Longboat Beach House, 4311 Gulf of Mexico Drive for a reported drowning.
A witness, who was fishing in a small watercraft, reported that he heard a man calling for help. The man was screaming and waving his arms. He was coming from the sandbar and pointing to a body that was swept up and tossing through waves.
The victim, was identified as Jacqueline Landaverde, 36, of Snellville, Georgia.
According to Longboat Key Police Capt. Kristina Roberts, Landaverde was vacationing on Longboat Key at The Turtle Crawl Inn with a group from her church. She went to the beach with her husband and daughter. Two other children were also on vacation with the couple, as well as others from the group. She and her husband swam out to the sandbar. The couple encountered a very strong current and according to Longboat Key Fire Rescue Deputy Chief David Kyle, Landaverde was likely caught in a rip current.
Landaverde was unable to swim to safety and was under water for what witnesses estimated to be three to five minutes.
According to Captain Roberts, capable assistance was on shore even before Longboat Key police and fire rescue arrived only minutes after the call.
“A man vacationing from Canada who is a police officer and a vacationing fire fighter were also on the beach administering CPR to the victim. However, their efforts and LBK Fire Rescue efforts could not revive the victim,” said Roberts.
Firefighter/paramedics transported Landaverde to Sarasota Memorial, where she was pronounced dead at 5:50 p.m.
The police report
THIS IS THE TEXT OF THE ACTUAL REPORT
“Writer was dispatched to the beach area at 4235 GMD in reference to a drowning. Upon arrival, myself and other officers were advised that the victim was located north of our location. We located the victim on the beach at the waters edge in the 4300 block of GMD. Two men were performing CPR on the victim. The victim was not breathing and did not have a pulse. Officer Martin was preparing to administer the EKG to the victim when LBK Fire Rescue arrived and took over CPR. As the victim was being removed from the beach by Fire Rescue, writer was able to interview the two men who had been performing CPR.
The man who had been giving rescue breathing to the victim was identified as Mario Valcarcel.
Mr. Valcarcel is on vacation, staying at the Turtle Crawl Inn at 4235 GMD. Mr. Valcarcel was on the beach when he heard a young girl screaming for help north of his location. The girl, later idenfied as the victim’s daughter Sara Landaverde, was shouting that her parents were in the water and were in trouble.
Mr. Valcarcel ran down the beach and swam out to where the little girl directed him, which was approximately 200 feet offshore. He located a female victim floating face down and unresponsive.
He swam back towards shore with the victim. As he neared shore other men helped him pull the victim onto the beach. The victim was not breathing so he began giving rescue breaths, while another man, Troy Bercot, began CPR. Soon after this Police and Fire Rescue arrived. Mr. Valcarcel believed the victim and her family were also staying at the Turtle Crawl Inn but he does not know them.
Writer interviewed the man who was giving the victim CPR, Mr. Troy Bercot. Mr. Bercot saw the men pull the victim from the water. Mr. Bercot is a Fire Fighter First Responder and stepped in and began administering CPR while Mr. Valcarcel gave rescue breathing. The two men continued this until relieved by LBK Fire Rescue. Mr. Bercot is also staying with family at the Turtle Crawl Inn but does not know the victim.
As writer interviewed the two witnesses, Fire Rescue transported the victim and her husband to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Writer walked over to the Turtle Crawl Inn and spoke with Mr. Bryan Perez, a friend to the victim’s family.
Mr. Perez explained that the victim’s name is Jacqueline Landaverde and her husband’s name is Daniel. The Landaverde’s and their three children were on vacation at the Turtle Crawl Inn with their church group from Georgia. Mr. Perez pointed out the Landaverde’s oldest child was with them in the water. Writer spoke with the child. She is 12 years old. The child advised that she was on a “boogie board” in the water with her parents.
They ended up going further out in the water and her mother started having trouble. The current seemed to be bringing her mother further out and she is not a good swimmer. She watched her father trying to help her mother and she paddled to shore to get help. When she got onto the beach, she ran down the beach yelling for help for her parents. She asked how her mother is, and I told her that the Paramedics have taken her mother to the hospital to try to help her. Writer ensured that the Landaverde children had an adult family friend to watch over them until the return of the father.
Writer responded to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where I spoke Dr. Kamm. He examined Jacqueline Landaverde and pronounced her dead at 1750. Dr. Kamm advised that the case will be forwarded to the M.E.’s Office to give the official cause of death.
Writer met and spoke with Mr. Daniel Landaverde, the husband of the deceased.
Mr. Landaverde confirmed that they were on vacation at the Turtle Crawl Inn with their church group from Georgia. He advised that he and his wife were in the water with their daughter. They had gone out a little ways in the water when they started getting swept out into deeper water and Jacqueline could no longer touch the bottom. She started struggling in the water and he tried helping her until he began to be overcome by the outgoing current. He felt he also was in danger of drowning and began swimming for shore. He reached shore but she did not.
At several times while talking with Mr. Landaverde, he became emotionally overcome with grief and wept. Writer assured him I had checked on his children and they are in the care of an adult female who is part of his church group who he is familiar with.
Writer was asked various questions by Mr. Landaverde and his Pastor regarding the transporting of his wife back to their home in Georgia. Writer advised them I would find out for them. Writer gave them my LBKPD business card with the case number.
While still at the emergency room, writer spoke by phone to M.E.’s Office Investigator Jennifer Guttiere. I advised her of all of the information I had learned regarding this case up until this time, adding that it appears to be an accidental drowning and I did not suspect any foul play. Investigator Guttiere advised an autopsy would be performed on either July 19 or the 20.
Writer provided Investigator Guttiaere with the contact information for Mr. Landaverde and expressed to her his concerns to take the body back to Georgia. Investigator Guttiere advised she would make contact with Mr. Landaverde to assist him in these matters. Writer provided her with my contact information for any further follow-up.
Before leaving the emergency room, writer again spoke with Mr. Landaverde and provided him with further information as far as the M.E.’s office involvement and the fact that he would be contacted when he could take custody of the deceased’s body.
I expressed the Police Departments condolences and again asked him to contact us if he needs any further assistance.
Investigation to continue.
Rip tide statistics and information
In June of this year, State of Florida officials reported that Tropical Storm Debby was responsible for seven deaths in the state.
Two people died in Pinellas County, including a 41-year-old woman caught in a riptide at St. Pete Beach said State emergency operations spokeswoman Jessica Sims. 11 people were pulled from rip currents on St. Pete Beach during the storm.
According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water that pull swimmers away from the shore. They can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes. They are common along the U.S. coastline even when the skies are clear.
Last year, 41 people lost their lives in rip currents in the United States, but on average more than one hundred people die each year from them. NOAA, along with the U.S. Lifesaving Association and the National Park Service, are working to reduce the death toll by educating people throughout the year, and especially this week during Rip Current Awareness Week, about the danger of rip currents and how to avoid them or survive if caught in one.
The National Weather Service provides rip current forecasts, so beachgoers should check NOAA before heading to the beach this summer. Laura Furgione, acting director of the National Weather Service said, “Knowing the conditions before you go will ensure you have a safe and fun day at the beach.”
According to the United States Lifesaving Association, each year America’s beach lifeguards rescue more than 50,000 swimmers from rip currents. Swimming at a guarded beach can reduce your chances of drowning to 1 in 18 million.