MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Cassandra Pratt found the aftermath of a drowning at Melbourne Beach's Coconut Point Park on Sunday evening. Rescuers searching the water for a man's body. A woman talking on the phone, almost unintelligible with grief, with two children by her side.
Jose Sanchez, 37, was the second of two people to drown because of rip currents this past weekend, according to Brevard County Sheriff's Deputy Maria Fernez. Darrius Rodwell, 31, drowned off Playalinda Beach on Saturday. Rodwell was from Mims; Sanchez from Texas.
"It was very devastating to see something like that in person," Pratt said. "You hear it on the news, and it's totally different to see it in person."
She arrived just before 7 p.m. and watched as divers worked in the water. The Coast Guard, Brevard County Sheriff's Office and Brevard County Fire Rescue searched for Sanchez. His body was found about 10 p.m.
The forecast warns of similar rip current conditions for the next few days.
"If you're going to come out to the beach, it's definitely one of those weeks to swim near a lifeguard," said Eisen Witcher, assistant chief of Brevard County Ocean Rescue. He said lifeguards rescued 12 people Saturday and seven on Sunday. Aside from the two deaths last weekend, Witcher could recall one other drowning this year.
The currents are caused by a swell created far out in the ocean, according to meteorologist Pete Blottman of the National Weather Service in Melbourne. The swell washes up to shore and then washes back out, creating channels of water moving out to sea.
Blottman said rip current conditions were moderate over the weekend, and he predicted those conditions will persist through the middle of the week.
After witnessing the scene Sunday, Pratt said she'll keep swimming, but she'll approach the water more carefully.
"You never know what the ocean's going to do," she said.