Two men, both visitors, drown in an apparent rip current in Rodanthe this afternoon — at the end of Dean Street just north of the Rodanthe Pier in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
According to the seashore’s chief ranger, Boone Vandzura, Dare Central received a call at 2:38 p.m. that swimmers were in trouble in the water near the pier.
A 70-year-old man was swimming when he became caught in a rip current. Three men from a different group of visitors all went into the water to try to rescue the older man.
The three would-be rescuers also got caught in a rip current and were separated by a big wave. One of the three, a 51-year-old male, also did not survive.
According to Vandzura, the National Park Service, the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Dare County Emergency Medical Services, Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire Department, and Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue responded to the call.
The water rescue team arrived in time to pull both men out of the water and get them to the beach.
CPR was immediately started on the two men and continued for some time, but both were declared dead on the beach.
“It is a sad day for the two families,” Vandzura said.
The two men are the fourth and fifth drowning victims in the seashore this summer after a summer free of drownings in 2015.
The other drowning deaths this summer include two on Ocracoke — a 64-year-old woman on Aug. 11 and a 67-year-old man on July 21. On July 22, a 71-year-old man drowned near the Frisco Pier.
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 seashore.
The National Weather Service issues rip current forecasts each day, and today’s risk was ranked as moderate north of Cape Hatteras.
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 when possible.
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/.