Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue: More children wandering the beach without parents

Local lifeguards said they saw more lost kids wandering alone on Jacksonville Beach over the holiday weekend.

Michelle Tolbert told Action News Jax when her two boys are in the water she’s never far behind.

She explained, “Eyes on always. We always keep our eyes on them. My husband, we usually double team it.”


The mom said she didn’t want to take any risks.

“It’s just kind of an endless pit. You can’t find them among the people, the water, the distance. It would be devastating,” Tolbert described.

Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue Captain Rob Emahiser said he sees people in that situation every weekend.

He told Action News Jax, “It’s very traumatic for both the kids and the parents.”

Lifeguards captured a picture of a little girl they found wandering the shore without her parents.

He said she’s one of a dozen who were lost over the holiday.

“We rescued one child, got him out of the water and said ‘Where’s Mommy and Daddy,’ and he didn’t know,” Emahiser said.

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He said trying to find parents cuts down on the number of guards who can respond to life threatening emergencies.

Ocean Rescue recommends at least one adult having eyes on children at all times.

“You can’t be on your phone, you can’t be reading a book, you can’t be laying face down,” said Emahiser.

According to Tolbert it could prevent a tragedy.

She said, “We never ever trust the waves. [Waves] can take your kids in, they can take them out – even the best swimmers.”

Emahiser asked parents to show kids where the nearest lifeguard stand is in case they are lost.