The tragic drowning death of former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett shocked the sporting world.
His death came just as an alarming spike in summer rip tide drowning deaths off Florida panhandle beaches in one month had emergency crews in the popular vacation region urging tourists to heed warnings.
While it was unclear if rip tides particularly played a role in Mallett's drowning death, his passing is a reminder of the power and unpredictability of ocean waters.
This week, Mallett's girlfriend wrote an emotional tribute expressing her grief after his death, and said "I'm so sorry I couldn't save you, and I hope you know how hard I tried."
Madison Carterwrote in a Facebook post, linked to Mallett's own account on the social platform, "Everyone knows how talented, dedicated, and passionate you were about the game of football. Those of us who were lucky enough to know your heart know that it was even bigger than your larger-than-life personality and stature."
Carter said of Mallett, "Nothing was ever about you, it was always about others. Multiple times, I heard you say 'there are so many good people in this world,' and that statement alone shows what kind of person you were. Always looking for the good."
The National Weather Service reported that so far this year, there have been at least 60 so-called "surf zone fatalities," across the United States. The highest number of deadly incidents has been reported off the coast of Panama City Beach in Florida.
The responding Sheriff's department in Florida's Okaloosa County, which handles emergencies for Destin beach, where Mallett was said to have been vacationing at the time, said that lifesaving measures were performed immediately when crews arrived.
Mallett was pronounced dead at a Destin hospital, the sheriff's office confirmed.
Carter wrote in her tribute to the former NFL player, "I can never thank you enough for loving me the way that you did."
"Words cannot convey how badly I miss you. I hope you know how loved you are. By myself, your amazing family, your friends, your teammates, your students, and countless others. I don’t know how I’ll ever get past this," Carter continued.
In one day recently, local police around Panama City Beach — about 2 hours by car from Destin — said there had been at least 36 water rescues in the area.
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