Woman Dies as Part of 'Human Chain' Rescuing Swimmers in Distress on Alabama Beach | Inside Edition

Woman Dies as Part of 'Human Chain' Rescuing Swimmers in Distress on Alabama Beach

Karen Graham was on a vacation with her best friends when they heard two women scream out for help in the water. 

A woman at the front of a "human chain" trying to rescue swimmers in distress on an Alabama beach tragically died after the chain broke and she was left struggling in the rough waters. Karen Graham was on a vacation with her best friends when they heard two women scream out for help in the water. 

"Somebody was yelling, 'let's form a human chain, let's form a human chain,'" one of the friends told Inside Edition. 

Graham was one of the first in the water, followed by her friends. Eventually, more than 20 good Samaritans linked hands to form a human chain that stretched all the way out to the distressed swimmers. Then, the chain broke and swept many of the rescuers, including Graham, into the surf.

"I remember looking back at Karen. She had actually gotten pulled behind us and she mouthed at me ... I'm not gonna make it," a friend told Inside Edition.

A paddle board brought her to shore, where she was taken to the hospital by helicopter, but she could not be saved. It's believed that the 54-year-old swallowed so much salt water it triggered a fatal heart attack. 

"It's just numbing to know that she's not going to come home. Her husband is just beside himself, and the kids of course," Graham's mother told Inside Edition.

Experts say that human chains are difficult to carry out. If you're forced to rescue someone who's in trouble, it's important to remember to keep the tallest and strongest people furthest out in the ocean and line up people from tallest to shortest, so everybody can stay in waist deep water and keep their footing in the sand. 

If weak swimmers want to help, they can join the chain, but they should stay out of the water and do what they can while staying on the beach.

A GoFundMe in Graham's name reads "RIP Karen Graham <3 You will forever be missed! Our hero!!!"

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