UPDATE: According to Sheriff Tommy Ford, the men were identified as Jemonda Ray, 24, Marius Richardson, 24 and Harold Hunter, 25, all of Birmingham.

First responders in Panama City Beach, Fla. pulled three men out of the Gulf of Mexico after receiving a call about distressed swimmers Friday night. The three men, who were from Alabama, died at local hospitals.

Multiple agencies responded around 8 p.m. at Watercress Condominiums to search for the three men. Following a tense search which included the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Air Unit, the men were located and transported for medical treatment. However, those efforts were unsuccessful.

“I have such a heavy heart this morning about the loss of three young visitors to our community,” wrote Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. “I’m praying for their family and ask that you do the same. It is such a tragedy.”

Officials said the men had just arrived in Panama City Beach for vacation earlier that evening. Their names have not been released.

Ford said first responders desperately searched for over two hours, and he is thankful for supporting agencies.

“I witnessed so many people, including visitors to our community, come together last night on the beach to desperately search for them,” he added. “The acts of courage by first responders were amazing.”

Ford said he is praying for the families of the young men and for the first responders who may be dealing with the emotional toll from the situation.

Bay County officials are currently flying a red flag along beaches to warn swimmers about dangerous rip currents.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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