Staunton man dies in South Nags Head surf
Responding to cries for help, a Nags Head Ocean Rescue lifeguard brought Gregory Balsley and another member of his group, Justin Thomas, 21, to shore at about 2 p.m., according to a statement from the Town of Nags Head.
The victims received lifesaving measures by emergency services personnel and were taken to The Outer Banks Hospital by Dare County Emergency Medical Services. Balsley was declared dead at the hospital. Thomas is expected to recover fully.
Balsley’s father is Phil Balsley, who sang with the Statler Brothers, according to the Staunton News-Leader. He was a real estate agent.
A rip current was in the area, but it has not yet been determined if drowning was the primary cause of death, the statement said.
“The Town of Nags Head wished to express their condolences to Mr. Balsley’s family,” the statement said. “We would also like to remind everyone to swim near a lifeguard and follow the directions of public safety staff.”
Also in Wednesday a second person died, apparently of drowning, at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.That incident was reported around 4:15 p.m., according to National Park Service chief law enforcement ranger Paul Stevens.
Two couples were swimming in the ocean south of Nags Head — on Bodie Island near Ramp 4 — when they were caught in a rip current.
Sandra Gassby, 46, of Diamondhead, Miss., died in that incident.
According to the Park Service, her husband, Jeff, was able to swim with her to shore, but he was unable to keep her head above water.
CPR was started immediately, but Gassby could not be revived.
In addition to the National Park Service, Dare County Emergency Services responded to the incident.
According to the rip current threat report from the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., there was a moderate chance of rip currents on the northern Outer Banks Wednesday.
Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves.
Rip currents are responsible for most drowning deaths on the seashore and the Outer Banks.
If you are caught in a rip current, the NWS advises that you should:
Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never fight against the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle–away from the current–towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
Rip current safety tips include:
Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
Never swim alone.
Learn how to swim in the surf. It’s not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist along side these structures.
Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.
For more information and for the daily rip current hazard report, go to www.erh.noaa.gov/mhx/RipHazard.html.
The Island Free Press contributed to this story.
See what people are saying:
Join the discussion:
You must be registered and logged in to post a comment.