Rip Current Rescue: Good Samaritians Use Boogie Boards And Human Chain To Save Father And Kids (VIDEO)

05/14/2012 10:37 am ET | Updated May 15, 2012

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When a strong rip current sucked two kids and their father out to sea on Sunday at a Fort Lauderdale beach, strangers formed a human chain in lieu of a rope to guide them back to safety on the shore.

"I was sleeping and then I woke up to a kid screaming for help," 15-year-old Saleh Saleh told NBC Miami.

The teen grabbed his boogie board and went after the drowning boy and his brother, ages 6 and 10, as well as their 30-year-old father who had jumped in the rough waves to save them.

Saleh told WSVN7 one of the young boys "was saying please don't let me die, please don't let me die, pray for my father, pray for me, please get me to shore."

After saving one son, Saleh and other good Samaritans at the ungauarded beach off Oakland Park Boulevard used boogie boards and what they describe as a human "conveyor belt" to rescue his brother and father.

"Saleh grabbed the boy, and we told the father to swim parallel to the beach and I finally got hold of his hand and some other people helped and made a line to push him into the beach," Yuri Gallegos told the Sun Sentinel.

Once the father was ashore, he was transported to Broward General Hospital as an advanced life support patient, but his condition is listed as non-life threatening.

Rip currents have been particularly strong off South Florida beaches in recent months. Two weeks ago, a 56-year-old man visiting from California died in the rip currents off 77th Street in Miami Beach.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 80 percent of all beach rescues are due to rip currents and over the past 25 years, rip currents have killed more people in Florida than hurricanes and tornados combined.

And even though swimmers are 30 times more likely to get caught in deadly currents than getting bit by a shark, lifeguards' warning flags aren't enough to deter people from the water.

"If people were out on the beach and the word 'shark' was used, they'd clear the water without a doubt," Gerry Falconer, a lieutenant with Miami Beach Ocean Rescue, told ABC News, "but to hear the word rip current, a lot of times, it has little effect…and it is just as deadly."

Watch the below NOAA video on how to survive a rip current:

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