Swimmer perishes on Oak Island, rescue teams deal with blocked beach access

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Oak Island Water Rescue and other emergency crews responded to the rescue of a swimmer from the ocean at 2 p.m. Saturday. (Courtesy picture)

OAK ISLAND – During a busy Memorial Day weekend on Oak Island, emergency crews report that a swimmer has died despite resuscitation efforts.

We don’t know if this tragic loss of life was related to the rip current,” Oak Island Water Rescue said on its social media.

Yellow flags were flying, indicating moderate risk, as the swimmer was recovered from the water.

Multiple agencies, including fire, police and emergency medical services, coordinated the response after a 911 call arrived around 2 p.m. Saturday. For the emergency teams, getting to the victim was not an easy task.

According Oak Island Water Rescue, W. 23rd Street beach access was full, with larger vehicles – trucks and SUVs – extending to access points. This prevented the fire department’s firefighter-equipped wide engine from passing.

“Fortunately, we were able to use another access to the beach, with no response time, to get to the beach. This beach access was also nearly blocked by parked vehicles,” a social media post noted.

Accesses that emergency vehicles often use on the island include:

  • McGlamery Street
  • Trotting Street
  • Rue Barbee
  • Crowell Street
  • SE 76th, 72nd, 70th, 64th, and 63rd Streets
  • E. Beach and 52nd, as well as 49th, 35th, 32nd, 29th, 25th, 16th, 9th and 3rd streets
  • W. Beach and 5th, as well as 10th, 23rd, 48th and End street

“Please understand that maintaining emergency access routes to the beach is a priority for the OIWR and [Oak Island Police Department]“, continues the message.

Bystanders rescued the man from the water and began CPR when emergency crews arrived.

“We are very grateful to those on the beach who sprang into action to bring the victim ashore and began resuscitation efforts,” the team said Saturday.

Moderate rip currents are also in effect Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Authorities advise swimmers to stay knee-deep in the ocean. Anyone caught in a current should stay afloat, stay calm and call for help; do not attempt to swim against the current, which could lead to exhaustion and additional danger.


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