Friends and family are mourning the death of a Philadelphia man who drowned while vacationing in Florida.
Officials say 25-year-old Debrice Dzoyem was swimming with a friend in New Smyrna Beach, Volusia County on Sunday around 12:30 p.m. Kandi Foster told Orlando NBC affiliate WESH that she and Dzoyem were walking through shallow water back to the shore.
“We weren’t that deep,” Foster said. “I could still feel the bottom of the ocean.”
Suddenly, Dzoyem slipped and fell as the rip current began to push him back.
“The current kept pulling him back and he wasn’t able to pull himself out of the water,” Foster said. “I just saw him go under.”
As Foster screamed for help, Dzoyem never resurfaced.
“I really couldn’t do anything because I am not a strong swimmer,” Foster said. “So it wouldn’t benefit me to go out there or we both would have been drowning.”
Lifeguards were called to the water but were unable to find Dzoyem. Members of the coast guard were then notified.
Local authorities, a helicopter crew and a boat crew all joined in the search. Officials say they eventually found and recovered Dzoyem’s body from the water Sunday night.
Officials told WESH that conditions on the beach were not dangerous at the time of Dzoyem’s drowning and called the accident a “terrible mishap.”
Dzoyem was originally from Cameroon, Africa but was living in Philadelphia.