Local man gives life for swimmer

Published 12:44 am Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Andalusia man is dead Monday after saving a 14-year-old Georgia girl from near drowning in the Gulf of Mexico Saturday.

Mark Stokes, 36, of the Hopewell community, was pulled from the Gulf of Mexico about 3:38 p.m. Saturday by the Panama City Beach Police Department’s beach and surf unit and transported to Bay Medical Center where he passed away about 2 a.m. Monday.

David Humphreys, deputy chief of police with the Panama City Beach Police Department, said the girl’s mother credited Stokes with saving her daughter’s life.

“She approached officers as they were trying to revive Mr. Stokes and informed them that her young daughter had gotten in trouble in the water, and he went out to save her,” Humphreys said. “From what we can determine Mr. Stokes apparently got caught in the rip current and was not able to make it in. Beach and surf unit specialists helped him to shore where they began CPR. Unfortunately, Mr. Stokes passed early (Monday) morning.”

Humphreys said a “red flag warning” was posted, meaning high surf and/or strong current conditions.

Law enforcement said Stokes entered the water behind the Flamingo Motel on Front Beach Road. He was able to get the swimmer close enough to the shore to swim to safety.

Humphreys said the girl and her family is from Americus, Ga., and was spending spring break in Panama City Beach, Fla.