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'Safe Shores' program helped decrease Pensacola Beach drownings

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Pensacola Beach had a big problem 12 years ago and it wasn't just Hurricane Ivan.

From 2000 to 2004, the beach saw an average of five drownings each year.

It was developing a reputation as a "deadly" beach.

However, all that changed in 2004 when WEAR, Pete Moore Chevrolet, and 'Leadership Pensacola' hatched a program called "Safe Shores."

It included an educational blitz about rip currents, beach hazards, and warning flags. It was all backed up by a generous donation of emergency trucks by Pete Moore.

Even with a team of 75 lifeguards, 8 miles of beach is tough to patrol.

Most of those miles have no life-guards stations, and a quick response to emergencies requires the right tools.

When seven people drowned in one season, Pete Moore stepped in.

"The reason they were having so many casualties was because, not that the lifeguards couldn't do what they do, but they couldn't get there fast enough to do it," he said. "I'm a lucky guy. I own a dealership, we've got great products, and I just saw a need; give them the trucks. We can do that!"

Moore handed over the keys to two new Chevy trucks to Escambia County Public Safety Director Mike Weaver.

Moore's been doing this for 12 years. And in those years, drownings on the beach have plummeted.

Weaver said, "With Moore's generosity and concern, he's been a catalyst to change that. Since that time, even though we consider it much, we've averaged only one drowning a year since that time. That's tremendous change."

Moore said, "I can't think of anything worse than having a family member or a friend die in the surf. And the beach has been a source of great pleasure for me and my family, and people I know. There's just no room for drownings."

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