19-year-old drowns at Carolina Beach

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- A 19-year-old Raleigh man is dead after drowning Sunday afternoon at Carolina Beach.

Carolina Beach Police Chief William Younginer says Geoffrey Okinyi and two other men were on an intertube when a wave flipped them over. Younginer says the men did not know how to swim. He says two of the men got help back to the beach where they told a lifeguard about their missing friend.

Lifeguards searched for Okinyi and found his body underwater near Harper Ave. around 3 p.m.

Okinyi's death marks the first drowning of the year at Carolina Beach. Younginer says he hopes it will be the last.

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"the men did not know how to swim"

It is ridiculous to place blame anywhere else. Folks with true passion, love, and respect for the ocean understand. The ocean's power is far greater than any amount of lifeguards, rules and regulations we can throw at it. Although, I'm sure we'll continue to try.

....to those respondents who pointed out that the true solution is to become a proficient swimmer and not bet your life upon devices that can fail without warning.

For those easily offended sob-sisters who don't read ALL the stories on this website, you obviously did not realize that that my message was inspired by another poster proposing just yesterday that cigarettes be banned, and a story about our Nanny government outlawing cribs that have served parents' needs for decades.

The loss of individual freedom, eliminating the right to make a choice, and the continued acceptance of an all-powerful, dictatorial government is far more important than any individual's death.

This young man had a RIGHT to make a foolish decision, just as a smoker has a right to stick a butt in his mouth, but there are those who will undoubtedly propose that we should be denied those rights. There are many beaches in this country where rafts and inner tubes have been banned, where everyone is denied the simple pleasure of towing their child or grandchild around on an inflatable ring because of a few careless people.

BTW, trying to place responsibility for this man's death on Carolina Beach is a mindset that goes hand-in-hand with the idea that "It's always someone else's fault."

"If I develop lung cancer, it's the tobacco company's fault."

"If my child is strangled after I assemble the crib incorrectly, it's the crib manufacturer's fault."

"If I get on an inner-tube in the ocean and drown because I can't swim, it's Carolina Beach's fault."

It's the attitude that creates and allows GOVERNMENT GONE WILD.

Until we hold people responsible for their own, individual decisions, we will continue to see America slowly transform from the land of the free to the home of the over-regulated, coddled, and excessively protected.

I totally agree with your comments. I was talking to my daughter the other day about the new crib "law". It's really getting to the ridiculous point these days. I happen to be one of the 'amazing people' who actually survived life before seat belts, car seats, helmets, and with a drop-side crib. I realize something are good for safety, but others just get carried away as the writer stated because a few use bad judgement or can't follow instructions. Someone places a baby seat on a counter, their child falls and gets hurt then they blame the seat maker, when the parent is the 'genius' that put their child in that situation in the first place.
It's terrible the guy on the inner tube drown, but if he couldn't swim, he knew the risk he was taking when he got out there to start with. No body's fault but his. My hubby doesn't know how to swim either, and he would never go out in the water like that.

My sincere condolences to the family and friends,if a person does not know how to swim and want to enjoy a water sport, Then put a life jacket on. They are there for safety purposes to help prevent such accidents as these. Some people do not calculate or consider the risks of not having a PFD on while underway in a even a boat much less tube. Look at a skier, Have you not ever seen someone without one on? If you have, then they are taking a big risk in the same situation. Further more, it should be the boat owners responsibility to make sure that he has the safety equipment on his/her boat to accommodate each and every person on the boat.THAT is the law of the Coast Guard. And if you do not have it on the watercraft, you get ticketed. But what is the use of having them if you are not going to use them? I think they should crack down on people who do not wear a PFD as they do BUI's. If they are concerned about keeping everyone safe on the water then this should be factor in their keeping people safe on the water.

You sincerely believe that people should be denied the choice of when to put on a PFD, and the government should force anyone in a boat to wear a PFD at all times?

You really believe that?

Good God almighty, people, how do you wipe your....nose...without the government telling you when and how?

Yea its another one ok. It's like putting your seatbelt on in a car, wearing a helment on a motorcycle, your kids wearing a helmet when they ride a bike, wearing a hard hat , safety glasses, steel toe shoes on the job when "needed" or "required" you know it's not about what I believe, it's about having common sense enough to know better not to endanger yourself or anyone else and even costing you your own life or serious injury. It's not about choice it's about keeping you safe. Some people are just ignorant and too stuck on "My Right To" crap. There are rules to everything to keep even the stubourn people from doing stupid stuff and people just need to get over it. Moral of the story is HAVE SOME COMMON SENSE!!! Everybody has rights and everyone needs to exercise those rights. But don't go out and try to prove you can exercise your rights by going against some pretty common sense rules that could cost you your life or serious injury. Don't be stupid.

You argue that the government should be able to demand you wear a PFD at all times, then go on to defend that insane POV by saying that it requires the individual to use common sense.

Guess what? The vast majority DO use common sense. I know when I need to put on a PFD.

What you and the overly protective Nanny government fail to realize is that people are going to die anyway. People NEED to die to insure our survival as a species (and the solvency of Social Security, if you want to keep it simple.)

Demand that they wear PFDs all the time and what happens the first time someone jumps from a flying bridge wearing a PFD and breaks their neck? Suddenly, we have a massive government ordered redesign of PFDs? We have a special office in the Consumer Product Safety Commission to cover floatation devices? We'll spend another five million a year to remind you to wipe your nose?

Where do we draw the line? Hey, how about forcing all residents of a city with a crime rate over x% to wear body armor? Let's set a universal speed limit of 35 MPH. Fatalities are almost unheard of at that speed. Let's save EVERYBODY and eliminate the NEED for them to use common sense as they go about their everyday life!

Let people manage their own lives. Employers have a right to demand personal protective gear. The government needs to remember that the governmnet that governs best, governs LEAST. As long as it only poses a risk to YOU, it's none of the government's business.

"Those who are willing to trade freedom for safety deserve neither freedom nor safety." - Franklin

We can argue the logistics behind where and how to pin the blame on external factors beyond control of the Ocean Rescue Department; the seas, the innertubes, the lack of swimming ability, etc; but there will always be accidents. Gifted swimmers have gone under to rip currents or aspirated water due to unpredictable chop. But it is Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue’s responsibility to be fully prepared for such and practicing preventative lifeguarding at all times. What this comes down to seems to be an administrative lapse. In previous years on Carolina Beach I have seen lifeguard stands double sat most of the time (even on cloudy days it seemed there would be at least one guard on every busy stand and several ATVs patrolling). On this given Sunday, there were, as I've been told and have read, five remaining guards after the rest of the squad were sent home. Weather in Carolina Beach is unpredictable and subject to frequent change. The sun can emerge during a cloudy or stormy day at any time, followed by a subsequent rush of beach patrons. We've seen it hundreds of times through the years. Tourists will brave cloudy skies to get their money's worth of their limited vacation time on the beach. I will not say that this would have been avoided had the beach been fully staffed, but I am saying that there would have been a much better chance had the central beach strand been double sat with adequate ATV coverage and that the Ocean Rescue administrative roles would be less accountable. It is common practice for lifeguards to count the number of people on a raft and to keep an eye on them, even entering the water if one goes missing or the raft gets too far out. There had to have been signs of distress once one of the men fell off. Rafts are red flags to experienced life guards - especially in areas with a high propensity for rip currents and with people on them that are obviously not locals. Which brings me to my next concern. The past few years I have seen and spoken to the same experienced guards on ATVs and at busy stands. This year it seems like a bunch of brand new high schoolers, who appear much less certain and poised than in previous years, are on the four-wheelers. Perhaps the older guards have moved on and this is an issue of limited staffing, but it also begs the question of who is in charge? The same person who sent them all home? Surely the budget is allowing for a fully staffed beach on weekends, given the shiny new blue ATVs, the new stands, and the new vehicles I have seen on Freeman Park. I think that this drowning should be a wakeup call for the town management and the ocean rescue department as a whole. Action should be taken. What is to happen in the event of a lawsuit? If the town can't afford to pay the guards to stay on the beach on a Sunday, how are they to compensate the grievances of a family missing a son and a brother?
In previous years, drownings have been attributed to missing appendages, aneurisms, heart attacks, and the fact that no guards were staffed on Freeman Park at the time. On each of these occasions (save Freeman Park, which we cannot hold CBOR accountable for), guards were present and adequate coverage was provided. But Mother Nature and her oceans are unforgiving and indiscriminate, and some things just cannot be prevented and mistakes are made. In this case, I feel that there were not enough guards present for any to make a mistake, and those in charge at Carolina Beach should have known to keep the beach much more sufficiently staffed. I pray for the unfortunate lifeguards who were involved in locating the body and who had to witness this event. I pray also for the victim and his family and friends. God bless you all, and may this be the last serious incident in Carolina Beach. Hopefully we can learn from this.

I was a few hundred yards away when this happened, jogged down the beach to see what all the commotion was about, and witnessed the last part of the beach rescue attempt. I can't speak to how many lifeguards were officially on duty that day, but...

Several of the emergency vehicles that responded moved off the ATV path on the beach to get closer to the rescue personnel at the water's edge. One of the vehicles got stuck in the sand while attempting to get back up on the ATV path, and within seconds the lifeguards got behind the vehicle and pushed it back up onto the path. I wasn't counting exact numbers, but there was certainly more than 5 people in reddish-orange shorts pushing that vehicle.

I don't know the victim personally, but I know others who have lost loved ones in accidents that were in the newspapers and such. The lessons from this tragedy: the importance of swimming and PFDs in water safety, are immediately obvious to anyone reading the story. Highlighting those things hurts the feelings of the victim's loved ones while accomplishing nothing productive in the process. I think that questions like the one about how many lifeguards are on duty are valid ones. Many other posts on this message board are not. Please weigh the value of your comments against the hurt they may cause before you post them.

Thank you for raising the real questions that should be investigated in this boy's tragic death. Someone very close to me is a very experienced guard at CB and was one of the 25 that were sent home early in the afternoon by the assistant of Alicia (who is running the CBOR for her first year with zero experience). Of the 5 guards left all of them are first year guards. CBOR for the first time ever is putting first years on ATVS and putting 4th and 5th year guards on stands. A seasoned guard would have known exactly what to look for in this incident but in this case no one was even watching because no guards were there. What is even more unfortunate is that the head of CBOR has made no apologies for poor leadership and has stated after this incident that she would have made the same call to send 25 guards home and will make the same call in the future if weather is bad. I guess some people just have too much pride to admit when they are wrong or they are just really afraid of a lawsuit. Either way they have no moral compass. Yes tragedies can happen no matter what the circumstances are but it is CBOR's duty to have a fully staffed beach especially on the weekends to make those tragedies far less likely. To suggest that having a fully staffed beach would have made not difference is insane logic. It doesn't seem likely that things will change at CB but I pray to God that they do before someone else looses their life.

or earlier.

This is tragic, and a completely unnecessary loss. I'm a small-government guy, but every local municipality with a public pool should do like UNC used to do and make people pass a swimming test before graduating (unless they have a note from their doctor saying they can't do it) and offer swimming lessons for students who will need them to pass. If we can provide Drivers Ed for students, we should be able to teach them how to survive in the water.

Time to ban inner tubes too, right libs?

They will want to ban swimming. And the ACLU is going to sue the Atlantic Ocean.

Nope...just learn how to swim before going into the water.

Have a little respect before you go shouting your nonsense around! This is someones life we are talking about. There is no need to put in your political imput on a story like this. My deepest sympathies for the friends involed and for this young mans family. May this be a tragic lession to all, that the sea is unforgiving and we must be respectful and aware of the dangers whilst we swim, boat or innertube in it. RIP brother.

Hi, I just want to send my prayers to all family and friends. I was actualy vacationing there then and my daughter and father were swimming right in front of all of them minuets before this tragedy happened. I have never felt so helpless. Ignore all of these negative comments its not worth the time. I hope everyone can gain strength and come together to support one another. I was there through every second of this and I can tell you I have not had a second go by that I was not thinking about this young man. If anyone in his family or friends reads this I have a pic of my daughter that you can see all of you guys around the float swimming. Idk if anyone would want a copy just offering. Please let me know if you do, like I said it is a distant pic but you can tell that it's the boys.

Hi, my name is Francisca
I would really appriciate it if you would send me the pictures that you have of them at the beach.You can send them to my email @ ocharofrans@gmail.com Thank you so much for your kind words.

thanks you.i would like to get the photo,that was my cousin that was unfortunate to be in that tube and didnt make it.

Hello Britney!Thanks for your kind comments.I've learned that you are a parent and you understand what a loss the family is going through.This young man is my first cousin.kindly send me the photos.

Too funny! I bet that is what they are thinking. The logical answer would be teach your kids how to swim or tell them to stay near the shore if they can not swim. But they were all adults and should have known better if they couldn't swim.

BUT: More importantly I will pray for his family and friends. I know how it is to lose a loved one to the seas. God bless.

No, don't ban inner tubes just ban idiots from getting on them!!

Well, idiots like you should be banned from here, How dare u say stupid statement like that!!! shame on u!

Someone's child is dead, you pathetic troll.

No idiot, time for people who cannot swim to stop using inner tubes in the ocean. Time for people to respect the power of the ocean and use common sense. And time for CB to have more than 5 lifeguards on duty on a Sunday! There wasn't even a lifeguard on duty at the Harper stand when this man died. Tragedy could have been avoided!!!

You feel that if a lifeguard was on duty this "Tragedy could of been avoided"?

So, I can go out to CB and not worry about a drowning just because their are lifeguards on duty? It sounds like it's a guarantee that I will be safe no matter how stupid my decisions may be.

Yikes!! Where do you people get your logic from?

Please don't go out and vote in any elections.

If not idiotic comments like "more guards on duty would have averted this tragedy" come from you. The fact is that open water is dangerous and there is no guarantee that any number of guards on duty will avert a drowning.

This was a tragedy, however the individual was responsible for his own death due to very poor judgement. So stop whining about numbers of life guards and deal with issues like poor judgement!

do you need to rely on the town to keep you safe at the beach? Tradegy would have been avoided if this man would have stayed on dry land.