updated 9/28/2005 8:10:22 AM ET 2005-09-28T12:10:22

Two swimmers died and more than a dozen others had to be rescued from rough surf kicked up by the remnants of Hurricane Rita along the Florida Panhandle, officials said.

On Saturday at Miramar Beach, where the water had been closed to swimmers, Walton County Sheriff’s deputies pulled a Kentucky man from the surf. Ronald J. Hallquist, 52, of Walton, Ky., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities did not identify a second man who died Sunday at Pensacola Beach. Witnesses saw the man walk out of the surf and collapse as he turned back toward the water, said Sgt. Robert Johnson of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s been bad all week. We’ve been telling people to stay out of the surf. You can’t even wade in it,” said Bob West, public safety manager for Santa Rosa Island Authority.

Surfers came to the aid of three lifeguards rescuing several swimmers east of the pier at Casino Beach on Sunday, officials said. The swimmers had all been caught by a rip current.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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