BIDDEFORD — Four vacationers from Montreal rescued from a rip current at Fortunes Rocks Beach on Wednesday say the experience isn’t going to prevent them from going to the beach again.

Around 4 p.m. Wednesday, two adults and two children went into the water at Fortunes Rocks Beach and got pulled into a rip current, lifeguard captain Christopher Lessard said.

Lifeguards on the beach called for backup and cleared the water of other swimmers.

Lessard and four other lifeguards, armed with a surfboard, rescue board and rescue buoys, worked together to retrieve the swimmers and bring them safely back to the shore.

All four people caught in the rip current were taken to a local hospital.

Melanie Octeau, a family member and friend to those rescued from the rip current, said in an email that all four were released from the hospital Wednesday night.


“Everyone is okay,” she wrote in the email Thursday morning.

Lifeguard captain Christopher Lessard, seen Thursday at Fortunes Rocks Beach in Biddeford, was part of a group of five lifeguards who helped rescue four people from a rip current at the beach on Wednesday.

Parks and Recreation Director Carl Walsh said being a lifeguard is not an easy job, and when an emergency happens, theyʼve got to be ready to respond quickly.

“What they did was incredible. They did what they were trained to do and they did it well,” Walsh said.

Lessard, who has been a lifeguard for 23 years, said events like Wednesdayʼs donʼt happen often, but lifeguards need to be prepared at all times. Lifeguards work out in the mornings, doing a combination of swimming, running and paddling, and routinely conduct mock rescues in the water, he said.

“Their training came into play and everyone responded perfectly. It was well done,” Lessard said.

Octeau said she is part of a group of three families from Montreal who have vacationed together every summer in Biddeford since 2009.


“This is the best place in the world for us,” she said in the email.

The family wanted to thank “the amazing lifeguards” who saved their lives Wednesday, Octeau said.

“They were so professional and quick,” she said. Octeau also thanked the police and first responders who came to their assistance.

“We will bring the kids back to the beach (Thursday) so they (can) enjoy the rest of their vacations,” she said.

Lessard advises beachgoers to ask lifeguards about water conditions before entering the water.

Rip currents, sometimes called riptides, are narrow channels of water that move away from the beach as fast as 8 feet a second and can occur at any beach with breaking waves. Anyone caught in them is advised to swim parallel to shore until they are out of the current.

On Sunday, two people died and several others were rescued when they got caught in rip currents at Seabrook Beach in New Hampshire.

Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or at:

[email protected]

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