Two men died Wednesday in separate swimming incidents

By on June 6, 2018

The National Park Service says two 55-year-old men, one from inland North Carolina and the other from New England, died within hours of each other while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches.

Around 4:47 p.m. near Ramp 70 on Ocracoke Island, a man from North Brookfield, Mass. was found 3 feet from the shore without a flotation device after family members asked for help.

A bystander started performing CPR and first responders joined them a short time later, but they could not revive the victim.

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Around 10 a.m. south of the Frisco Day Use Area, a Benson, N.C. man who did not have a flotation device was first observed on a small sandbar about 50 yards from the beach.

A bystander jumped into the water to help after the victim’s family started calling for help, according to National Parks of Eastern N.C. Chief Ranger Boone Vandzura.

The victim was swept off the sandbar by what may have been a rip current before the Good Samaritan could reach him, Vandzura said.

The man eventually floated closer to shore and was pulled onto the beach, where another bystander attempted CPR.
Resuscitation efforts continued after emergency personnel arrived, but they were unsuccessful.

“Today has been a very hard day at Cape Hatteras National Seashore,” said National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac. “Our staff offer our sincere condolences for the loss of two visitors. We urge everyone to be very careful when swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.”

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The men were the second and third swimming-related fatalites off Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches in the last four days and in 2018. There were seven swimming-related fatalities in 2017 and eight in 2016.

While the rip current risk forecast from the National Weather Service was low for the beaches south of Cape Hatteras, the waters off the Outer Banks can produce powerful waves and dangerous rip currents at anytime and anywhere.

“The seashore strongly urges all swimmers to obtain information about rip currents and swimming safety before entering the Atlantic Ocean,” Vandzura said.

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Rip current safety information is available at National Seashore visitor centers, on its social media accounts, NOAA’s Rip Current website http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/, on the National Weather Service’s rip current forecast: http://www.weather.gov/beach/mhx, and signs located at parking lots and beach walkways.

Local, state and federal agencies on the Outer Banks have partnered to spread public safety messages on social media about ocean safety using the hashtag #LoveTheBeachRespectTheOcean.

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