A 22-year-old man from Montpelier, Va., drowned and his 15-year-old brother almost drowned on Wednesday, June 26, in an incident on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach in Frisco.
According to Hatteras Island District Ranger David Carter, the call for help for swimmers in trouble about 200 yards north of the Frisco Pier came in shortly after noon. The National Park Service, Dare County Emergency Medical Services, and the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad responded.
Carter said the brothers were on the beach with their parents when the younger one went into the ocean to swim. Carter said he got into trouble about 100 to 200 feet from shore, and his older brother, Matthew Ridpath, went in after him.
Meanwhile, another swimmer who was not a member of the family group heard the calls for help and swam over to help them. Carter said that when the rescuer got to the brothers, Matthew was floating face down and was unresponsive, and the younger boy was almost unconscious.
The rescuer, 33-year-old Joshua Thurmer of Cape Coral, Fla., managed to get the brothers to shore where CPR was started immediately.
The two victims were transported by EMS to Vidant Family Care clinic in Avon, where Matthew Ridpath was pronounced dead by a physician at 1:25 p.m. The younger brother, whose name is not being released, was taken by ambulance to Outer Banks Hospital.
Carter said the credit for the rescue of the boy definitely goes to Joshua Thurmer.
He added that he did not see any obvious rip currents on the beach when he arrived on the scene but that there had been a call for a rescue on Tuesday, just south of the pier at the Frisco bathhouse.
“This is another example,” Carter noted, “of someone who went in (the ocean) to help and himself drowned.”
The ranger said that anyone who goes into the ocean to assist a swimmer in trouble should carry a flotation device of some sort – a raft, boogie board, life jacket, or even a cooler.
This is the second drowning death at the seashore this summer. A Kentucky man drowned off an Ocracoke beach in early June.
Although the National Weather Service had the rip current threat in the area as “low” yesterday, these currents are a major cause of drowning on the seashore beaches.
Rip currents are strong river-like currents that move away from the shore. If caught in a rip current, stay calm, wave for assistance, and swim parallel to shore. Don’t swim against the current. Once out of the current, swim directly to shore.
For more information on rip currents
Local rip current forecast: Click on the yellow tab on The Island Free Press Front Page – at the top on the right. The tab will take you to the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., and the daily rip current forecast.
Eena Project: www.eenaproject.com
Weather Channel: www.weather.com
National Park Service – Cape Hatteras Seashore: www.nps.gov/caha