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Vacationers describe efforts to rescue drowning man in Fort Morgan |  Baldwin County Alabama News


FORT MORGAN, Alabama (WALA) – It was not for lack of effort that a man in northern Alabama died on Wednesday after being swept away by a strong current.

Many people on the beach said they tried to help her.

Northern Alabama man drowns in Gulf near Fort Morgan

“We had several people, several volunteers,” said Michelle Hennies, a nurse who lives in Oklahoma. “Everyone came selflessly to help. So we all worked together as a team and prayed for him and did our best with all of our hearts. “

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office said the man, identified as James Campbell, 63, of Athens, Alabama, has died.

The drowning comes three days after Baldwin’s deputy, Bill Smith, died rescuing swimmers not far from the same spot. The last Gulf victim died just off the beach at the end of Buchanan Court East, a place surrounded by beach houses, less than two miles east of the fort.

Hennies had just met the man and his family. She said her beach neighbors even took a photo of her and her husband.

“Oh, they looked like very upright, very Christian people, loving people who were delighted to bless our family by taking our picture,” she said. “And in return, we just chatted – and good people who are easy to talk to.”

Richard Hennies, who serves in the Air Force, said the victim had been in the water for some time, not venturing too far. Then things changed.

“We didn’t necessarily know what the beach conditions were like, and I looked over my shoulder and saw the mountain of waves,” he said. “And I saw him go further and further. And I just want to check that he’s okay, and that’s when I realized something was wrong.

Hennies said he managed to reach the man.

“I knocked him over so his head was up and then about three seconds later,” he said. “I found sand under my feet. So the Lord just lifted him up under me, and I was able to pull him back, I started to cry out for help.

Hennies admitted feeling fear as he charged into the water. Michelle Hennies said her husband “was up to the job” along with other members of her family.

“It’s dangerous, but at the time he needed help,” she said.

Lando Weems, on vacation in Decatur, said his father ran to help.

“I took my phone and called 911,” he said. “And by the time I got back there after I was on the phone, they had him laying him down on the beach.”

Carl Moore said his family has been vacationing there for years, but Wednesday was the first time he had seen something like it. He described hearing the commotion.

“I saw them dragging him. Then someone shouted, ‘Dial 911’, ”he said. “Then I ran over there and dragged him out of the water and another man started CPR. “

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