ST. PETE BEACH, Florida -- A Lakeland woman has died after trying to save her children from a current in St. Pete Beach on Saturday. 

  • Woman dies after trying to save children
  • Children was caught in a current
  • Bystanders jumped in and helped rescue children

Samar Aboukhdair, 34, and her six children were swimming in the Pass-a-Grille Beach area, when four of the children were pulled into a strong current. Aboukhdair went after the children but was pulled into the current as well. 

Richard Grande and his wife Laura were walking along the beach at about 6 p.m. when they heard the children screaming. 

"When you hear kids screaming, your brain shuts down and your heart kicks in," Richard Grande said. "That's the way I felt, these kids are not dying in front of me."

The couple jumped into the water to help rescue the family. Along with two other bystanders, they pulled the children and Aboukhdair from the current. 

"Me and Laura had to keep an eye on all four of them and they kept going under," Richard Grande said. "I said, 'we've got to keep counting the heads.'"

Laura Grande said she came to the beach in search of more cross-shaped sea shells that she had discovered the evening before. The couple drove from their Seminole home to that specific stretch of the beach to find more. 

"For whatever reason, I was insistent on going to Pass-a-Grille," she said.

Aboukhdair was taken to Palms of Pasadena Hospital in critical condition and died Sunday morning. 

Three of the children were also taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Richard and Laura Grande said they were heartbroken to learn that Aboukhdair had died. They are hoping to one day meet the children they helped save. 

"I've lived long enough," Laura Grande said. "If it came down to it, protect the next generation."