body of a 17-year-old visitor who went missing while swimming in the
surf in Rodanthe washed up last night just before 10 p.m. north of the
The 17-year-old was swimming in about chest-deep water with a
16-year-old friend just south of the Rodanthe Pier on Thursday, Oct.
13, when they were pulled out by a rip current.
The 16-year-old managed to get back to the beach, but the other teen
was never seen again despite attempts to rescue him by the
Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue team.
Chet Bailey, the captain of the rescue team, said there had been a
heavy rip current in that area south of the pier and that rescue team
members have pulled 20 or 30 swimmers out of it.
The U.S. Coast Guard was also called in to search, and sent a small
boat and a helicopter. Bailey said the Coast Guard helicopter searched
through the night until 7:30 on Friday morning, covering about 900
The Chicamacomico Banks team, he said, continued searching at low tide
from the Rodanthe Pier south to the Avon Pier for the teen's body.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore ranger Boone Vandzura said this morning
that the call came in at 9:51 p.m. Sunday night that a visitor found
the body about 20 yards north of the Avon Pier.
Outer Banks Group Superintendent David Hallac
said, "Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this most
The teen-ager's death is the seventh drowning
this summer at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore -- many more than
anyone can remember. All of them have involved rip currents.
Two were on Ocracoke -- a 64-year-old woman on
Aug. 11 and a 67-year-old man on July 21. A 71-year-old man drowned
near the Frisco Pier on July 22. And, on Sept. 9, a 71-year-old man and
a 55-year-old man who tried to rescue him both drowned in the ocean off
Rodanthe. On Oct. 2, a 55-year-old man went missing off the beach in
Salvo. His body washed up two days later south of Ramp 23.
Rip currents are the number-one public safety
risk on beaches in the United States, according to the National Weather
Service, and they are the most frequent cause of drowning deaths at the
The National Weather Service issues rip current
forecasts each day, and last Thursday's risk was ranked as high on the
Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Rip currents are powerful, usually narrow
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.
Swimmers are advised to use extreme caution and to never try to swim
directly back into shore against a rip current because you will become
quickly exhausted. If you become caught in a rip current, you
should yell for help and remain calm. Do not exhaust yourself and
try to stay afloat while waiting for help. If you have to swim
out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and then back to the beach
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The National Weather Service's beach/rip current forecast is available
on the Island Free Press home page -- at the top on the right hand
side. Look for the colorful umbrellas. It is also available at http://www.weather.gov/beach/mhx.
More on rip current safety is available at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/.