August 2012 Letters To The Editor

New Letters to the Editor....08.31.2012  12:00 pm

Dare County continues push against illegal signs at businesses

(Editor’s note:  This is a copy of a letter sent to the Dare County Board of Commissioners.)

I am in receipt of my second threatening letter from Planning Director Donna Creef regarding the signage that I have in front of my two stores in Hatteras village.

From what I can determine from the letters, the problem is a sandwich board sign that has been in use, in the same spot, for close to 10 years. I responded to the first threatening letter I ask if there wasn’t an alternative to taking away signage that we know is drawing business off the street and into our shops -- particularly in a post-hurricane year when we are finally getting back on our feet from nearly being put out of business.

Evidently there is not.

The recent letter advised me that the county attorney would be notified and legal proceedings initiated. My understanding is that since the assault on Hatteras businesses began back in June that more signs have been put out than taken down, that the number of threatening letters to violators has increased not decreased, and that Ms. Creef has been swamped with phone calls and e-mails from angry business owners and operators on Hatteras Island.

In and interview with the Island Free Press, County Manager and County Attorney Bobby Outten indicated that the sign ordinance needed to be either enforced or changed.

I don’t know how much more clear the business people on Hatteras Island have to be to make you understand that we do not want the sign ordinance enforced. We want it changed to suit our unique environment. We do not have box or chain stores, nor do we have businesses stacked one on top of the other. We survive off the traffic that passes by our doors, much of that traffic on its way north to incorporated Dare or south to Ocracoke. Since Hurricane Isabel, Hatteras village, in particular, has had to remake itself into a viable business environment, and our signage has helped to draw attention to the fact that there are businesses once again ready to serve our visitors and a reason to stop rather than passing through looking at the remnants of what the village use to be.

Most of the businesses on Hatteras Island are owner operated, leaving us little or no time to fight with Dare County in the midst of a busy season over a 20-year-old sign ordinance that, until now, no one has had the political will to try to enforce. I would suggest that enforcement was previously restrained by those who knew that it was not in the best interest of the business community on Hatteras and that the resistance and uproar would be as it has turned out to be.

My understanding is that approximately 40-plus businesses on Hatteras Island are in violation of the ordinance. Am I to understand that the county commissioners are ready to drag 40 Hatteras Island business owners into court for not complying with a 20-year-old unenforced sign ordinance that does not match the community it is being enforced upon? If so, I would suggest to you that you are out of touch with the people of Hatteras Island.

I would also suggest to you that a resolution to this would be to stop your proceedings, call for a meeting with the Hatteras Island business community after the season is over, with the intent to redesign the sign ordinance to suit and represent the Hatteras Island communities.

Tony W. McGowan
Road’s End Gallery, Happy Belly Ice Cream, The Beacon Shops

Reader shares Hurricane Irene memories

I am a non-resident homeowner in Salvo. My plan was to take the ferry over to assess the damage at our home and return the next day. I took clothes and food for one day. The ferry ride to Rodanthe was filled with nervous strangers who easily and quickly became friends, as we were all in the same boat!

My neighbors in Salvo, two of the most wonderful people I've met, were at my door to welcome and comfort me, knowing the devastation I would see as I entered my beloved home and after witnessing the devastation of my favorite place along my way. She greeted me with clean sheets, a glass of wine, and a hug. One night turned into three because of the storm damage and poor weather that cancelled the ferry in the following days. It was the most heartbreaking, yet heartwarming experience as we explored the villages and met other islanders. My chest felt like there was a vice grip on it as I realized the destruction. I soon realized that I was one of the luckier ones.

Strangers became friends, and friends got closer. Meeting people who had just lost everything yet were willing to help others was such a life-changing experience. So much was lost yet so much gained! We plan to celebrate the spirit of Hatteras Island as we remember Hurricane Irene.

Cindy Michelotti

Visitor is thankful to rescuers

There was a wicked undertow at the Buxton Beach on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 26. I was knocked down and pulled way out and nearly drowned. I want to give my deepest thanks and appreciation to the three people who saved my life.  To the wonderful lifeguard, Brooke, and her partner, thank you so much! How do you adequately thank someone for risking their life to save yours? The ability and professionalism you both displayed were nothing short of amazing. Brooke, thank you also for the wonderful kindness you showed me afterwards. You were my guardian angel.  And an especially big thank you to the surfer who came to my aid. I don't know your name, but I wish I did. You saved my life!  I was exhausted and swallowing a lot of water.  I don't think I could have held on until the lifeguards got to me without your help. Thank you!  I owe everyday of the rest of my life to the three of you. You are my heroes!

Pat Ressler
Lancaster, Pa.

Former Realtor now running for Dare Board of Commissioners had broker license revoked

Don't waste your time running. You cannot beat Allen Burrus. He is too awesome!


Day at the Docks will be a four-day event this year

I am very impressed at how well the banner is holding together since the wind event that tied it into a colorful knot. My question at this point is whether it will see  Sept. 12 or will another weather-related incident take it out once again? ‘Tis the season for those storms that start with a "H" and end with an "E." 

Butch Austin

Island Living: Rules of the road to the beach

I have been enjoying the OBX for around 20 years. Coming from Pennsylvania, the whole trip down is relaxing. Making it to Highway 12 is the ultimate relaxing time – that and enjoying the people, beach, fishing. Last year, I made the long trip after Hurricane Irene and talked to the locals about their experiences from the hurricane. I was one of only three vehicles at the Point.  I am very thankful for all everyone in the OBX community did and accepted from us.

Jack Archer
Houtzdale, Pa.

New Letters to the Editor....08.17.2012  10:15 am

Pregnant woman dies after water rescue near Ramp 43

Thank you to all the rescue personnel responding to the pregnant woman and man drowning. It broke my heart to read this article in the newspaper. This was a tragedy for all involved. I am sure that the rescue employees did all that they could to help these people. Thank you for your earnest help in trying to save these lives. I pray for the families that have suffered the greatest loss.

Chesapeake, Va.

Ocracoke woman’s journey leads her to a large family she didn’t know she had

Thank you so much for this story. I live in Chesapeake, Va., but it's great to "get to know" some Ocracoke locals. It would be great to have a segment on "local's stories.” Thanks again.

Chesapeake, Va.

Outer Banks Angling: Weather vs. whether

This year has been very rainy for our annual vacation.  But we have made the best of it.  Some days we have not been out to the beach until late afternoon, but we always try to spend at least a couple of hours.  All that being said and the new restrictions can't imagine spending my vacation anywhere but on the island.  Love it here as well as the locals we have friended over the last 30 years.  Continued prosperity and good weather to all of you.  Praying for your success. 

Anna Marie
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Mid-Currituck Bridge: Build it and they will come -- and come and come

I truly do not understand why there should be more access to the Outer Banks.  Don't they understand, the more people that come, the less people will come?  The enjoyment of getting away, feeling safe, endless beaches is what drew people there in the first place. Come on, there has to be an end to development to make big business more money.  The OBX is about so much more than commercial business.  I'm for keeping it at least "little" of a getaway from the continental U.S. I find this development sad! I feel for the real residents -- the older ones. They have watched their wonderful world destroyed by money seekers. Please no bridge or other commercial business. I loved it when we drove the whole length from Corolla to Kitty Hawk looking for a candy bar at a roadside store or gas station.  It was like a precious jewel. So hard to find.

Otterville, Mo.

Judge Boyle spins some surprising notions in status conference

It is fairly obvious from the comments of Judge Boyle that he is not an unbiased judge.  Really! “Why not just pave the beach?" And likening the possible congressional reversal to "repealing the Declaration of Independence"?

If Judge Sullivan sends the CHAPA suite to Boyle, it seem that there would be no possibility of an unbiased result.  It would be a disservice to all parties.  Boyle has already judged and is, therefore, unfit to sit on the CHAPA suite.

Then there is the slanted use of statistics to indicate that everything is better due to the consent decree.  Yes, turtle nesting is up and perhaps fledges have increased and occupancy is better than the last couple of years.  Are these even a slightly related to the ORV plan implementation? Not likely.  More likely is the relation to weather patterns and ocean currents -- nature for the turtles and birds and the economy for the vacationers.  And "fewer break ins"?  What does that have to do with driving on the beach?  Nothing!

Then let’s interview those 16,000-plus permit purchasers who had to obtain a permit for the first time this year and see how many of them were aware that they needed permit before they booked their vacation.  Lets’ ask them if it was worth the money for the restrictions they faced.  Then ask them how it will affect their future decisions to come to the CHNS.

Those statistics would be pertinent.

Mark Dingman

CHAPA and its attorneys need to file a motion for Judge Boyle to recuse himself from any further litigation in this matter on the basis of his hostile attitude toward the interests of ORV users. A search through court records should result in enough evidence to support such a motion.

Mark Mason
Newport News, Va.

New Letters to the Editor....08.10.2012  11:30 am

Beach Access Issues

I totally agree with "long-time beach driver" from Chesterfield, Va. I have been vacationing in Frisco for years. I cannot go out at 6 in the morning anymore for solitude and to collect sea shells and take pictures of the sun coming up over the Point. My brother and I did not see not one NPS employee out there this year. We usually saw them drive by at least twice a day. They were not checking vehicles for all the "supplies" we were supposed to have nor were they checking for stickers or weekly passes.  I saw plenty of vehicles without either one. I was outraged. We all paid $50 and made sure we had our supplies and for what?

And in the years that I have been coming here, I have noticed just in the past two years all the local businesses that have closed. I stay on Shore Surf Lane and four houses were empty on that road this year in the week that I was there -- in July I might add.  And let’s not forget all the homes that are up for sale now.

I will continue to come and I will continue to spend money in that area even more so now than I ever have! My daughters and I went to Buxton Village Books and each bought about 10 books from Gee Gee while we were there. We visited more locals shops instead of Wings and so forth. So I am doing what I can to show support to keep that beach open, including T-shirts and bumper stickers from the
Outer Banks Preservation Association and Support Free and Open Beaches links! I wish there was more I could do!

Colonial Heights, Va.

That's one of the biggest issues I have with this permit and even a fishing license.  The money is spent to provide vehicles and equipment to some who have no business having any authority or power as they see it, at all.  If the fees were used to actually help maintain the natural environment, it wouldn't bother me one bit to pay them.

Jose Simon

Cape Point reopens to off-road vehicles

Thank you! You have no idea how much it means to everyone in this area!

Scott Anderson

If the National Park Service and others are so into saving the birds and turtles, why don't they remove the eggs when they find them and take them to a lab where they can hatch under their care? 

John Dumbleton
Franklin, Pa.

UPDATE: Obama administration weighs in against bills passed in the House, including H.R. 4094

Why are areas that have nothing to do with wildlife, such as the overwash area around Oregon Inlet Bridge, off limits? I have been going for 20 years and saw fewer people there this year than ever. Local working class people can't afford the $50 or $120 dollar permit. Why can't the access be similiar to other areas that have access plans in place? I would like to see more common sense used because thepeople I see on the beach have always acted to protect wildlife and respect it here in North Carolina.

Wilbur Haynes
Elizabeth City, N.C.

2011: The photos of the year

Your pix certainly make me look even more forward to our visit in early September. Thank you!

Edgar Hume
Lexington, Ky.

Outer Banks Angling: Tuna, cobia, bluefish, pompano, and more

I got a four-hour charter out of Oregon Inlet about eight years ago and caught a 41-pound striper. I loved it. Last year took a 8-hour charter out of Calabash and didn’t catch anything but bonita heads. The barracudas got them before we could get them in the boat. LOL. I had a good time. I would really like to catch some mahi-mahi. I will be coming Aug. 25 through Sept. When would be the best time and where and who to get hooked up to get on some mahi-mahi?

Kenton Kelly
Kermit, W. Va.

Future of the Frisco Pier is still uncertain

 I also believe that the Frisco Pier has a great future! Although times are bad and money is not growing on trees, the owners have a good plan and seem like they're trying their best with what they have to work with. The pier should be maintained as much as possible until funding is available.

Fredericksburg, Va.

Island Living: A Visitor’s Guide to life in the Real World

It’s great reading the local paper and is certainly a help in planning our visit. Thank you!  I especially love Joy Crist's writing skills.

Edgar Hume
Lexington, Ky.

Judge Boyle spins some surprising notions in status conference

Irene, you are right. It is nothing but the Derb and Terry show.  Derb refers to the judge's expertise in what the rest of us would call the judge's bias in these matters. Of course, the beach driving permits are a great success.  The success is limited to the fact that the government is collecting the fee or is it a tax from people to allow them the ability to do something that they have been able to do for free for many decades?  I, like most of my friends and neighbors, favor environmental protection.  I fail to see how this beach driving permit program benefits man or beast.  All it does is remove a lot of money from the local economy.  This all started with questionable science and statistics, so it's most logical to progress to this idiocy.

Frank Brown

It's amazing how much unsubstantiated opinion factors into these court discussions. I have been visiting Hatteras Island for over 20 years as a vacationer and now as a homeowner.  I support the idea of permitting -- a price to pay for the privilege of using this resource (but I think residents should be exempt). The money can be put towards protection and research as necessary.

But the closures have absolutely had a negative impact in a few areas.  The comment that "those who pay will drive on the beach more" was absolutely false in my circumstance, and that's because so much of the beach was closed.  Our favorite spots to visit were inaccessible, the open areas were a far drive, and when we finally did get on the beach it was congested with a lot more traffic.  Typically in seven days, we would bee on the beach at least five. This past trip, we were on the beach twice. It put a major damper on our Hatteras Island experience compared to the prior 20 years.

Hatteras Island Homeowner
Fort Myers, Fla.

First of all, I would like to know where these special-interest groups are getting their info on how tourism has increased?  Have they driven past Oregon Inlet? Have they checked on tackle shops?  I doubt it. Second, I can’t  understand  how any North Carolina senator or judge would want to see a  North Carolina business owner suffer because of a decision on  false information .These environmentalist groups are  going to ruin our nation.. I live just 30 minutes from Virginia Beach, but choose to visit the OBX because of the beauty of the beaches and the mom-and-pop tackle shops. Judge Boyle has made too many sarcastic remarks on this issue and  should be removed. He is too baised!

Frank Liekefet
Suffolk, Va.

Mid-Currituck Bridge: Build it and they will come -- and come and come

It's funny how different Carova's problems are from Hatteras Island's problems.  Your beaches are wide open allowing ridiculous numbers of vehicles (I saw this firsthand in 2006), putting all those beautiful horses at risk and our beaches are closed to protect a handful of plovers.


 I love coming to Carova for vacation every year and enjoy the solitude of the area. I hope it is kept and there are no businesses.

Robert Bidgood
Clarks Summit, Pa.

A tribute to my brother, Stewart Couch

What a lovely and fitting tribute to your bro.

David Parks
St. Augustine, Fla.

Seashore superintendent Mike Murray announces he will retire July 31

Mr. Murray is gone now but he left behind Mr. Echols, who is a resource management ally. Look out beaches. It's the turtle squad in control!

Native Son
Roanoke Island

Dare Emergency Management releases re-entry information

Following our last hurricane, I took the ferry to the mainland to get my drivers license renewed.  The waiting line in Manteo was very long, but I had an appointment.  The examiner told me that their lines were long because many people who needed to return to the island, had failed to update their address on their North Carolina driver’s license, and could not prove that they were now residents. Thus, they were denied entry at Stumpy Point.


New Letters to the Editor....08.03.2012  11:40 am

Beach Access Issues

On March 24 of this year I purchased my off-road vehicle permit in Buxton.  While sitting in the parking lot, I decided to read the permit that comes with the sticker.  Contained in the permit were the rules on how to affix the sticker.  It says to affix the sticker immediately after purchase and to affix the sticker on the windshield lower driver side only.  I put the sticker on the inside of the windshield with the information on it facing out.  It stuck on good.  After many trips to the beach and seeing many park rangers, no one ever said anything was wrong.

On July 29, my wife and I went to the beach to enjoy the day with some friends.  Our friends left, but we decided to stay longer.  Our truck was parked as it is supposed to be and I was sitting behind it in my chair looking at the ocean.  All of the sudden there came a voice saying, “Sir, do you know why I stopped here?”  I said, “No.”

It was a park ranger and he told me my sticker was supposed to be stuck on the outside of the windshield and that he wanted to see my permit and registration card.  Everything matched up perfectly.  He told me he could write me a ticket, but he would write me a warning ticket instead.  I told the park ranger, Jim Churchman, that I did not deserve a warning ticket.  Nowhere on that permit does it state that the sticker had to be on the outside.  He said he was going to his truck to write one anyway. 

I turned and took about three steps toward the ocean when I heard him yell out, “Sir, I can arrest you.”  I had not displayed any action to warrant that.  I was simply getting away from the stupidity. 

While he was writing the warning ticket, my wife and I started trying to move the sticker to the outside.  It was stuck on the inside so good that it ripped in two pieces and most of the print is still stuck on the inside.  By the time we had gotten the two pieces stuck on the outside, he walked over to hand me the warning ticket. 

We talked a while, and I told him how my neighbor had his sticker scraped off his windshield and stolen.  I told him I thought having it inside was better.  At that point, he told me you really don’t need the sticker. He said it is the permit that is important.  Imagine my astonishment!  Fifteen minutes ago I was going to be arrested for having my sticker on the inside, now it is not important to have one.  On the warning ticket, he wrote that I had violated the conditions of the permit. 

So after a nice day on the beach with friends, Jim Churchman had to come along, harass my wife and I and ruin our day.

It is the pettiness, the stupidity, and the threat to arrest me that I find amazing.  Is this a federal park or a federal prison we are surrounded by?

Tommy Butler

(Editor’s note:  The Park Service’s chief law enforcement ranger, Paul Stevens, responded to this letter.  He said, in part, that the permit does not specifically state to attach the permit on the outside of the windshield. However, NPS permit office employees advise the purchasers where to locate the sticker. If the sticker was posted inside the windshield the information would be displayed inside the vehicle, he said. The adhesive backing on the sticker would allow it to be put only on the outside of the vehicle. The ranger, he said, was correct in advising Butler that the yearly sticker or the weekly hang tag is only an indicator that the person has a permit. The permit itself is the form that is filled out, signed by the purchaser, and a copy is given to the purchaser and is to be kept in the vehicle.

“As far as a warning ticket,” he said, “all of our rangers have a range of latitude when it comes to enforcement from an educational verbal warning, written warning, violation notice, or arrest. This is standard for most all law enforcement agencies that enforce misdemeanor violations.”
Stevens also noted that this is the first year for administering the permit program on the seashore.

“We are planning an after-action review,” he said. “One of the things we are going to look at is having the yearly stickers made up for the inside of the windshield. We looked at this option early on and went with the outside sticker because it is reflective and we thought it would be easier to see at night. Our contractor could not make an inside sticker with the reflective materials. I recently found out that Assateague Island National Seashore had outside stickers, and they switched over to inside stickers, which alleviated theft and issues such as this.)

I live on Shoresurf Lane in Frisco. I went to the beach today and noticed, not one, but many of our tourists ducking under or crossing over the lines that have been strung for the turtles whose nests are in the dunes. I approached a few to tell them that they need to walk around the closures. They just kept walking, and I said, "Hey, you are supposed to walk around." They never stopped, but said, "Give me a break." I said, “Give me a (expletive deleted) break. I live here.” Maybe they weren't the words I should have chosen, but nonetheless, I don't approve of the all that is going on, but I do obey the signs and the closures. I just wish all of our visitor friends would also obey them. They all will leave at the end of the week and think nothing of it. But those of us who live here still have to deal with it. And more closures are not what we all want or need.

Kathie Cobb

 Mid-Currituck Bridge: Build it and they will come -- and come and come

We are regular visitors to the northern beaches. This project will ruin the unique character of the area and turn it into another generic East Coast beach resort. Be careful what you wish for.

Tim Casey
Wilmington, Del.

I live in Virginia. Beach but have owned a house in Carova Beach for about 25 years. This is our retirement destination. The proposed bridge will make this place very dangerous. People don't know how to navigate on the sand. They also don't know what the laws are. The beach is a roadway, yet they let their children play in the driving area. Would they let them play in the street if they were at home? I am opposed to the bridge. It will make things too dangerous because of too many people.

Michael Romano
Va. Beach, Va.

My family and I have been coming to the OBX for 20 years visiting family and the beautiful beaches. One of the many treasures of the OBX is the Carova area. My family would hate to see a bridge built into the Southern Shores area as this would only increase the number of tourists and damage to the natural environment. The huge increase of traffic in this area is evident, and at times, it is not enjoyable due to the large number of non-experienced persons trying to access this area. Please do not build another bridge into the OBX. One of the reasons the OBX is so beautiful is because humans have not overbuilt and destroyed the natural beauty. Please do not allow this to happen. Thank you.

Danielle Fansler
Basye, Va.

Building a mid-Currituck bridge to dump U.S. 158 traffic on a single lane road on Route 12 north makes no sense.  There may be numerous rental houses at Corolla and Carova Beach but not full-time residents.  The housing industry's collapse has also deterred construction businesses from building.  The beach road is already well traveled during peak season.  This is one of the last well preserved beach accesses anywhere.  Let's not ruin it by making it another tourism wasteland.

Knotts Island, N.C.

Judge Boyle spins some surprising notions in status conference

Let me see if I get this straight. The SELC is trying to restrict driving from the national seashore by implementing a "tax" or charge for driving on the beach.  Judge Boyle said that the numbers were up for beach drivers because if people had to pay to drive there, they were going to make sure they got their money’s worth.  So isn't that counter productive for all the "environmentalists," that "their" policy is having the opposite effect on their "reasoning?"  If they removed the "beach tax," the numbers of ORVs would diminish according to the folks that are trying to save the environment.  I sure hope this headache I've had for the last few years trying to figure these folks out goes away in November.

Tom Bibbey

I can’t believe this judge and the environmental radicals. The new regulations have had a devastating impact on visitors on the southern beaches who spend money at tackle shops like Frank and Fran’s and others. It is a fact and yet they pretend everything is great. The environmental groups have one ultimate goal, and that is to crush businesses in the area in order to drive people from permanent residence on the south beaches. This is why they are fighting the new Bonner Bridge project. They would be happier with nature ferry trips and NPS permanent presence only.

Finally, the bird population data that was used in arguing the environmentalists’ case is inaccurate. An Army Corps of Engineers study showed that decreased bird population coincided with the string of violent hurricanes that affected the Outer Banks during the ‘90s.Beach driving numbers actually dropped during the study period due to decreased accessible area due to storm damage to these and other areas with drivable beaches. I never have seen evidence on the beaches of bird kills by vehicles. The idea is absurd. It is a shame that the all-night fishing I did with my uncle in the ‘70s is now gone. It is tragic, and I hope the regulation can be overturned so I can teach my grandson the joy of that experience that I had.

W.M. Whittington
Portsmouth, Va.

Really?  Who are you kidding? The NPS is not doing what it says. I thrive on driving on the beach. It's how I release my tension. Due to all the closures, I haven't been able to achieve my goal. As far as the NPS, I only saw them twice on the beach in the 14 days I was out there. Never once saw them check any vehicles. Nor did they make sure you had in your vehicle the equipment that was required before the issue of a driving permit.

NPS tells us the permit money has to go back into the island for updates. No mention of hiring more rangers. I saw folks driving too fast on the beach. One idiot came out in an all-wheel drive, got stuck, then ran to another parked car to have them tow him off.

This law suit isn't over. Washington needs to carry its folks to Cape Hatteras. Each one needs to pick a local family -- hang out with them for one week! Maybe   they will learn something.

In the years I have been coming to God’s paradise, I have never seen so many local businesses closed -- not to mention the beaches where driving is permitted were bare. The campgrounds in the middle of July were half full. Come on, Congress, or whoever it is really making these rules. What's more important -- families trying to make a living or birds?

Just had to get it off my chest!

Long-time beach driver
North Chesterfield, Va.

Guest Column: Why Park Service policies are bad for wildlife protection

Please, please, please have this article published in The Virginian-Pilot. Ignorance and lies are killing the Outer Banks and its wildlife!

William R. Jones

Bob, you are right on. I have been saying this all along since they stopped moving them and protecting the turtle nests. The best way is to move the nests to safer ground -- away from all overwash – and that means a different beach all together or hatching in the lab. They just are using all this to close our beaches not to protect the wildlife, or they would do what is best for the -- like all the other states and programs.

Pat Conley

I sent a link to this article off to the Senate committee and asked them to get the bill out of committee.

Nags Head

Mr. Davis wrote a very interesting article that I and a lot of others probably hadn't thought of.  I knew about the senseless killing of other animals to protect birds, but didn't know about the way turtles are treated.  Thanks for the info. 

Grant Jennette
Virginia Beach, Va.

Supporters of bill to overturn ORV rule find a friend on Senate committee

My husband and I always look forward to our trips to Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Since the beach closures have taken place, we no longer travel as often to the sites we once loved and enjoyed. Please return the beach access to the people so we may once again enjoy our time on the beautiful shores of North Carolina.

Valerie Shunk
Chesapeake, Va.

Pregnant woman dies after water rescue in Buxton

(Editor’s note: The following two comments are reprinted here with the permission of the writers who commented on the story, as posted on the Outer Banks Voice website.  Readers who commented, among other things, questioned the decision of the first responders on the scene.  : You can see all comments on this post here:

Let me just say, signs are worthless. This was not – I repeat not -- a rip current issue. It was an access issue for rescue. They were in the lifeguarded area but slightly after the NPS lifeguard shift ended. The beach was not rough. As far as I could tell, he swam to her after she fell into a "hole" and was swept out, not "pulled under," and he tried in vain to save her. There was a "littoral" current running toward the Point that took them both down the beach about 300 yards.

Thousands of people swim here without lifeguards and without fins.

And to those of you that think from your armchair that decisions on that scene were in error, first contact Dare County EMS and talk to them about it, and then come on down and volunteer your time with us assuming your fit enough to even get into the squad.

The armchair critics here could not even begin to understand the limited circumstances reported in the paper. If you were not part of our attempt to save these lives, you have absolutely no business even commenting on it -- period.

Flight by the way is a luxury we are afforded by having our own medical helo. The "other" services are at least an hour off in the best of circumstances. When we have already used Dare Med Flight or it's on another transport, then we try to minimize the distance by "load and go" to the next nearest helipad.

This was a very, very bad situation that you all have no right to put down. We did everything in our power to save these people and you are adding insult to injury. Did your Mom not teach you better?

Richard Marlin
Chief 42
Hatteras Island Rescue Squad and Frisco Fire Department

First off, it was not rough that day. Second, he struggled for 20-30minutes trying to get her ashore before 911 was called. One has to wonder if the beach they were at were not a "minefield" of turtle nests, would there have been more people on the beach to witness this event and notify 911 sooner? Currently there are more than 100 turtle nests on Hatteras Island, and while NPS allows Hatteras Island Rescue to disregard closures during an emergency, the number of nests precludes beach safety patrols altogether in some areas and certainly slows down our response to a swimmer in distress.

Is Cape Hatteras National Seashore safe? Yes, if you’re a turtle or a bird – humans, not so much. For this to happen to this young mother to-be in "downtown" Buxton in shameful. Despite the attempts of Audubon and others, Buxton Beach is not a wildlife refuge.
Bob Helle
Hatteras Island Rescue Squad

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