This is really sad. Take a boogie board with you to the beach. It's really that simple to save a life. People unknowingly go straight out and get into trouble. I'm guessing this family had little ocean experience and paid a heavy price.
That adrenaline gets flowing and one forgets - to GregMD point, don't forget. Eons ago, my then 12yo daughter and a bud were floating off shore, treading water, just babbling away, back to the shoreline. Group of us parents just chatting on the beach.... I look up and their little heads are now "dots" ....but I can tell they are still babbling away, backs still to shore. I knew as soon as they looked back, saw the distance to shore, they'd freak. I jumped in, no floatation, and burned it out to them. Totally gassed by the time I reached them. I'd have never survived that today.
On the boogle board, IF you do have to use it (hopefully never) best to find one with a leash that will fit around your ankle...if you really have to scoot, managing a "lose" board or one attached to your wrist will really slow you down.
Really good advice from Beach Rescue Captain if on unguarded beaches: if you see someone in trouble, know the closest street name, call 911 with location and ONLY if you have the swimming capability and know you can help, grab the closest boogie board… even if it belongs to someone else. More than likely someone nearby will have one. Stay calm and wait for water rescue to arrive. Don’t go in without a flotation device. It can help to buy time and calm the panic.