ANNA MARIA -- A man and woman drowned, and two other people were injured this afternoon in the Gulf of Mexico after they got caught in a rip current off Anna Maria Island, according to Manatee County officials.
The incident happened about 3:23 p.m. in the Gulf near the 100 block of Sycamore Avenue, near the north end of the island.
An elderly married couple and their friend were swimming and rafting when the friend began having trouble with what was described as a rip current. The couple's son, who was nearby, began calling for help from bystanders, according to a news release from the county public safety department.
"The wife apparently began to struggle, too," the release states. "The husband, son and others attempted to bring them ashore, and did so with the assistance of rescue workers and bystanders."
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The friend and the wife were taken to Blake Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.
The husband and son were treated at the hospital for extreme fatigue, according to public safety officials.
The victims' names were not immediately released, but the sheriff's office said they were visiting Anna Maria Island from the Tampa area.
Multiple EMS units, Manatee County Marine Rescue, West Manatee Fire Rescue, and Longboat Key Fire Rescue assisted in the rescue efforts. The area they were swimming in is