Chelsey Smart and her family are staying just feet from where Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office say Justin Campbell from Athens, Alabama died Wednesday morning.
This suspected drowning on Fort Morgan Peninsula comes just days after Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy William “Bill” Smith died saving swimmers in distress nearby.
Smart says they come to the beach here in Baldwin County two to three times a year.
This is their first time staying in Fort Morgan.
After witnessing this week’s accidents firsthand, Smart says it may be their last.
“The children, it scared them, they actually didn’t want to go back to the water. We saw the ambulances; we did keep them away from that. A lot of the locals were here and helped, and they talked me down, talked the kids down, they were very helpful with it, but seeing that does make you weary of getting in the water,” said Smart.
Keeping beach goers safe on the peninsula has always been a struggle, officials say, with stretches of private property and mixed jurisdiction making it near impossible to establish consistent a flag system.
Several folks tell us they are working to better educate themselves for the next time they come to visit but are staying out of the water for at least the rest of this week.
“You feel like oh no, its no problem over there, then all of a sudden the currents taking you down a little ways and it’s a completely different strength,” said Bryan Muench, who is visiting Fort Morgan from Texas.
“We probably will not back. Its very concerning, with there not being lifeguards, I understand it’s a private beach, there’s no flag systems in place, and we won’t be back,” said Smart.
Fort Morgan Volunteer Firefighter Michael Ludvigsen and the BCSO say they are grieving the loss of one of their own, but also conducting their own investigations into the week’s accidents.
For those staying on Fort Morgan, there are still ways to keep yourself aware of the latest rip current risks.
There are rip current signals on Fort Morgan road.
The City of Gulf Shores and FMVFD also have the latest warnings and models on their websites.