Yellow flags were posted throughout the Outer Banks Labor Day weekend due to dangerous swimming conditions. Despite the warning, three people have died in three days at the popular North Carolina vacation destination.
Atlantic Ocean waters were reported to be rough in North Carolina and Virginia last weekend with a high risk of rip currents and strong waves in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. Ocean City, Maryland, reported dangerous rip currents and also noted with its warning a shortage of lifeguards for the holiday weekend.
On Wednesday, a 36-year-old man from Enfield, Conn., died near the Nags Head Fishing Pier off South Virginia Dare Trail. The 911 call came in just before 6 p.m. A lifeguard from Nags Head Ocean Rescue pulled the man from the water and began CPR. The man, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the Outer Banks Hospital.
On Tuesday, a 68-year-old man from Hillsboro, Ohio, died off southern Hatteras Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The 911 call came in around 10:30 a.m. and the reported incident happened near the off-road vehicle ramp 55. Bystanders reported the victim shouted for help before going under water. The bystanders pulled the man to shore. Resuscitation efforts were not successful.
“The Seashore sends condolences to the families and friends of the swimmers that lost their lives over the last two days,” said David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “High energy surf conditions, including large waves and life-threatening rip currents, are forecast to be present all week.”
On Monday, Labor Day, a 28-year-old woman from Washington, D.C., identified as Ferozan Walizai, was found unresponsive in the water in front of the village of Avon at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. A 911 call was placed at approximately 2:30 p.m. after the victim was observed face down after being overtaken by strong waves. The woman was brought to the shore by a bystander and a visitor with a body board. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.
“Visitors wading into the surf, even as shallow as waist deep, may be overcome by large waves, suffer injuries, and may be overtaken by rough ocean conditions making it difficult, if not impossible, for all but the strongest, most experienced swimmers to survive,” Hallac said.
Hallac warned visitors to avoid entering the ocean when the rip current risk is moderate or high and when the waves are more than 1-2 feet in height.
“Even in the calmest conditions, swimming off the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is much more difficult than swimming in a pool or lake and only the most experienced should consider entering the water.”
Hallac recommended visitors consider spending time on the sound-side beaches at the Seashore, including Haulover, Salvo and Devils Shoals Road.
A fourth person died in North Carolina at North Topsail Beach after apparently being pulled out in the ocean while cast netting on Monday. According to family members, the 16-year-old did not know how to swim. The youth’s body was recovered on Wednesday.
There were no reported drownings in the Virginia Beach area over Labor Day weekend. However, there were four drownings along the Jersey Shore over the three-day weekend.
Learn more about ocean and beach safety at www.lovethebeachrespecttheocean.com.