Dangerous rip currents are threatening the lives of beachgoers on the East Coast. On Saturday, the currents proved deadly as three people were pulled from the ocean waters along North Carolina beaches after drowning.
The weekend drownings were not the first of the summer. The total number of rough surf and rip current deaths has climbed to 11 for the year. The U.S. Lifesaving Association estimates nearly 100 people die in rip currents each year in the U.S.
The deaths occurred at three separate beaches along the state’s southern coast, according to ABC News, after a moderate rip current warning was announced for the area. Two of the deaths occurred at different beaches in Brunswick County, just across the state line from popular tourist spot Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The third death happened north in New Hanover County.
According to ABC affiliate WTVD, one of the beachgoers was a 20-year-old man who was swept away by a rip current around 2 p.m. at Sunset Beach in North Carolina on Saturday. Once being pulled from the ocean by a surfer, other beachgoers began performing CPR before emergency responders arrived, according to Coastline Rescue Squad Chief David Robinson, but after being taken to a local hospital, the man was pronounced dead.
Twenty-five miles up the shore, a 40-year-old man drowned to death while trying to help someone get free from a rip current. The other person was brought to shore safely, but the man did not make it.
The third swimmer passed away on Saturday at 11 a.m. after being pulled out of the ocean at Wrightsville Beach by lifeguards. Wrightsville Beach Fire Chief Genn Rogers said the man was not breathing when he was found and was soon pronounced dead.
Rip currents accounted for more than 80 percent of the 84,900 rescues that lifeguards made in 2016, according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association. On June 13, 10 people were rescued in rip current-related incidents in two hours, according to the Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue.
The threat is serious, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, because rip currents occur everyday and can appear to be calm areas of the ocean without waves; they most often form at low spots or breaks in sandbars near piers.
“A break in the pattern of incoming waves can signal a rip current,” the administration warns beachgoers.
Lifeguards urge beachgoers to become aware of rip currents and learn how to escape them, hopefully, saving their lives.
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