Miami Beach's Late Afternoon Drownings Raise Question Whether Lifeguards Need Longer Hours

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City of Miami Beach
On Tuesday, we reported that Miami Beach drownings have risen recently as the number of lifeguards has lagged behind the tally of tourists.

Lifeguards, public safety committee members, and locals have all asked for more guards working longer hours.

Two cases in particular show how longer lifeguard hours could save lives. Both men drowned just minutes after lifeguards left their towers.

See also: Drownings Rise in Miami Beach as Lifeguards Demand More Resources

United in death, the victims could not have been any more different in life.

Bryan Kent Foster was a convicted sex offender who landed in Miami Beach back in 2005. Court records paint a thin but painful portrait of his vagrant life. Despite warrants for his arrest in other states, nobody bothered to find Foster. Instead he was left to drift around town. He was arrested for sneaking into parks after hours and public drunkenness.

He was also arrested twice for breaking his sex offender registration requirements. The first time he served six months in prison.

The second time, he was luckier -- or so it seemed. Foster's case was dismissed on May 10, 2012. But there would be no new lease on life for Bryan.

Instead, just four days later, Foster decided to die. He spent his last dollars on whatever booze he could buy. Just after 7 p.m. -- when lifeguards left their towers for the day -- Foster gathered his meager belongings into a pile on the sand. It amounted to little more than a pair of well worn shoes and the paperwork identifying him as a sexual offender.

Then he stuffed sand into his sweatpants, tied them tightly, and walked into the sea.

If it's unclear whether longer lifeguard hours would have prevented Foster's suicide, it's much more certain that they would have spared George Knott.

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Peter Castro
Peter Castro

Um no how about personal responsibility and not going swimming drunk or staying close to shore or knowing the rules before swimming. Grow up people. I thought you were done with daycare after you became an adult.

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