Round Lake mother dies in Florida after family caught in rip currents

ROUND LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- A mother of two from north suburban Round Lake died after she and several family members were swept out to sea by a rip current in Florida.

Police records identified Maria Rosario Perez, 35, as the woman who died after rip currents pulled her and her family into deep water off of Miami Beach Thursday afternoon.

Miami Beach police were dispatched to the beach near Collins Avenue at 17th Street for a possible drowning.

Perez was swimming with her family and some family friends from West Palm Beach. They told police they were swimming in shallow water when suddenly they hit a sand bottom with a heavy undertow that dragged them out deep into the ocean.

Cell phone video shows a large crowd of beachgoers surrounding the area where a group of people had been calling for help from the water. Police estimated that the group of six people was a quarter of a mile out into the water when emergency crews arrived.

Ocean Rescue pulled Perez out of the water. She was transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, where she was later pronounced dead.

The group of swimmers included Perez's husband, another adult male and three 11-year-old children. Police said all of their conditions had stabilized.

Back in Round Lake, friends and family members visited Perez's home in tears on Friday afternoon.

"To her two daughters and husband, her parents and her siblings, may God give them strength to carry on," said friend Maricela Lemus.

Lemus described Perez as a wonderful friend, wife and mother who was very religious.

"She was a warrior," Lemus said. "A word to describe her was warrior."

Neighbors said they assumed the family was still enjoying their trip to Florida when they heard the tragic news.

"They just wanted to go on a vacation, you know, and it's really sad to know that they're not coming back as a whole family," neighbor Eric Vazquez said. "It's really going to be sad."
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.