UNCW freshman dies while surfing in storm


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Submitted: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 10:03pm
Updated: Wed, 02/22/2012 - 6:25pm
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Friday afternoon’s stormy weather caused a life and death situation at Wrightsville Beach. A swimmer went missing after a lightning strike. Just after 4:00 Friday afternoon, lightning hit the water near Beach Access 36 near the Oceanic Pier. John Edward Sackett of Annapolis, Md., an 18-year-old freshman, was killed while surfing with a group of friends. It is not known whether the lightning hit the area near Sackett, or Sackett directly. The bad weather forced his friends out of the water, when they got to shore they realized he was not with them. Volunteers and Ocean Rescue searched the water for about an hour. A couple visiting from Raleigh actually spotted his blue swim trunks, and pulled him out. "The entire campus community is deeply saddened by this loss of a member of the UNCW family," said Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and friends during this very difficult time." The exact cause of death is not known.

10 Comments

  • JP says:

    All I can say is my friend of 30 years, son is dead at 18!!! JT was an amazing young man with his whole life in front of him… and by the way he spent his entire life on boats (including living on them), sailing, and life-guarding from the Bahamas to Maine. He knew the water but misjudged tragically… Now we are left to wonder what happened. If the weather was so bad why wasn’t the beach closed??? Or flags posted???
    His parents are devastated as well as his community. He was smart, kind and a beautiful soul. May you rest in peace my sweet boy…
    love you…jp

  • bhs says:

    His name is John Sackett, or JT, and he was a freshman at UNCW, originally from Annapolis, MD. He was a really amazing guy- very smart, outgoing, and truly admirable. RIP JT

  • guesty says:

    It isn’t the local governments responsibility to babysit grown adults. You really can’t expect them to shut down the beach with every thunder storm. People will test mother nature and usually she will win.

  • Guest Commontater says:

    Easy there Chet….

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend. Folks don’t take the precautions they should. No storm will come up so fast that you can’t get out of the water. I have been around the water all my life… still here.

  • Scott says:

    Your comment may not have been “dumb,” but it wasn’t exactly educated either. You put in an irrelevant opinion based of your own personal feelings and thoughts; afterwhich you reply with an even less educated response. “Are you a student at UNCW? Or are you just “chillin” out in the town?” – Real Classy.
    Kid’s are wreckless, especially in the face of thrills and danger. Most beach-goers, especially surfers know the risk associated with storms. You are somewhat oblivious, as you’ve obviously forgotten what being a young adult is like.
    Especially a freshman male.. We’re all 9ft tall and bulletproof until something brings you back to reality. It’s sad, but your opinion and points aren’t neccessary to realize that.
    Just saying.

  • anne says:

    Thank you, Chet, for your comments. Are you a student at UNCW? Or are you just “chillin” out in the town? I wasn’t making a dumb comment – and the storm didn’t just come up really fast out of nowhere. It had been around for sometime. Just ask some of his other friends who were concerned about the weather!

    A young man, who seemed to be loved by many, lost his life. That is what is important and hopefully his death will not be in vain – maybe it will cause others to pay a little more attention to the weather and think twice about being out with a storm around.

    Now Chet, you go chill out for a while. Have a great day!

  • Das Weibstück says:

    Her comment was not dumb at all. Us readers who where not at the scene have to take the info we read and see on TV as fact.

    I am sorry about your friend. I think you are too upset to read opinions about your friends death with an open mind though.

  • anne says:

    This story is sad because we know the outcome now. I just can’t believe that people would be out there swimming when that storm was around. Now a young man is dead because of it. The sad thing about it was that the news account showed them trying to revive him and people were still out there swimming! What does it take for people to realize the danger.

    I just can’t imagine how his family felt when they got that call. Our prayers go out to the family, and to his friends at UNCW.

  • Chet says:

    Hey Anne you need to chill the heck out and not be oblivious. If you knew anything about what happened you would know that they were surfing and a storm came up really fast out of nowhere. So they didn’t go out in a storm. Get your facts straight before you make such comments. Oh and it just so happens that he was one of my best friends. So don’t make dumb comments when you don’t know the facts. You don’t even know John so just step off.

  • Guest456 says:

    Out of the water at the first clap of thunder..
    Only return back in the water 30 minutes AFTER the LAST clap of thunder….

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family

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