Rough Waters Deadly In Florida

A red flags waves Monday, Aug. 2, 2004, warning swimmers of dangerous undertows at Atlantic Beach, N.C., as a result of Tropical Storm Alex heading up the coast. Tropical Storm Alex is causing heavy surf and strong rip currents along the North and South Carolina coast.
Rip currents caused by severe thunderstorms and strong winds are to blame for two drowning deaths in one day at a Florida Panhandle beach, authorities said.

Ashley McConkey, 13, of Mount Airy, N.C., was dragged about 600 yards into the Gulf of Mexico before Coast Guard rescuers pulled her out Wednesday, Bay County sheriff's spokeswoman Ruth Sasser said Thursday.

She was lifted from the water unconscious and flown by helicopter to a hospital, where doctors were unable to revive her, said Sheriff Frank McKeithen.

Michael Galletta, 45, of Villa Rica, Ga., was swimming Wednesday near a hotel on the beach when he disappeared shortly after sunset, the sheriff's office said. He later died at a hospital.

McConkey and Galletta were the second and third people to drown here in five days. On Saturday, the body of 18-year-old Gerardo Daniel Pedroza-Flores of Mexico City was recovered several hours after he vanished while swimming.