Swimmer presumed drowned, search continues for body

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Submitted: Wed, 05/15/2013 - 8:38pm
Updated: Thu, 05/16/2013 - 10:16am

HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) — It’s a vacation investigators say a church group had taken many times. But for one church group from Ohio the Carolina coast will never be the same after one of its members apparently drowned at Holden Beach.

Investigators say Kwesi Sample, 21, was trying to swim from Holden Beach to Oak Island when he disappeared under the waves.

Lockwood Folly Inlet may look peaceful today, but yesterday police say these waters turned deadly.

“Water temperature was about 61 or 62 degrees, and the tide was about to change from falling to rising, and at that particular point and time the current was particularly strong,” Holden Beach Police Chief Wally Layne said.

Sample was a former college football player and, investigators say, a skilled swimmer, who was visiting the area with a church group from Ohio, but the water he and his friends tried to swim across is considered by some as the most dangerous stretch of water in Brunswick County.

“It’s an extremely dangerous place to swim, especially if you’re not familiar with swimming in water with a lot of current,” Layne said. “It’s extremely dangerous, and I would hope that folks wouldn’t do it.”

Wednesday crews searched by air and water for Sample’s body. They say his death could have been easily prevented.

“Life jackets are good,” Layne said. “At least had the individual had a life jacket on he would have just floated in the inlet. Things would have turned out a whole lot differently.”

After using side scanning radar to cover the area, investigators were not able to find Sample, but they have vowed to continue the search until he is returned to his family.


  • Foreverythingthereisareason says:

    Please keep the victim and family in your hearts. There are 1700 other of his fellow church goers there to continue their mission in praising The Lord and passing the good news. This is an incredible experience for these young people and the situation with Kwesi has been such a test of faith. I have a child there now who is part of this church group who is heartbroken, trying to make reason of the joy of The Lord and unforeseen worldly forces.Please do not judge. This will be an experience that these young people will never forget but they will soon find Gods hand in this tragedy. Good comes from all things, maybe not in man’s time but certainly in His. No matter, Kwesi will go home.

  • PeaceNLove says:

    Sleep Peacefully Kwesi, I pray that you come up so that your family can bring. You home so you all may gain peace and the closure they need.. Rest beautifully in Paradise sweetie..you are truly missed but will be carried on in the hearts of those you care for you . -You Are Loved Fallen Warrior <3

  • Gina Banks says:

    I had met your son when he was with Eastland Vikings and
    Played football at Eastmoor. He was a wonderful and respectful young man. Always wanting to give ahelping hand and a beautiful smile. I am in agreement to pray for him coming home. God be with u and your family

    With love Gina

  • Soyini Harden says:

    This is Kwesi’s grandmother’s friend, Soyini. My love and prayers are with all of you at this time. I feel your pain and sorrow and I also feel your pride in Kwesi and trust in God. I join Kwesi’s mom in praying strongly that his body will come up.

    I will continue to send you all my love and prayers over the coming weeks. You are part of my spiritual family and extended family.

    Love, Soyini Harden

  • Jamie Edwards says:

    Netta, we love you and your family! We are praying for your baby, in Gods name, please Lord. No amount of time would ever change the “family” we were on Oakley and that’s whay i HAD to respond. you were raised up with something, we all were… i could not let this go with out letting you know how much we care for ya’ll so much.

  • Chara says:

    Oh LORD, WE GIVE You thanks for your presence and the gift of perserverance that keeps us upright in the face of all that threatens to topple us. You bless us with the gift of hope which sustains us, you bless us with the gift of love and compassion, which enables us to shoulder one another’s burdens. We are reminded through these gifts in our times of deepest need that YOU are indeed watching over us. I sincerely pray that Raynette and family are comforted during this difficult time. I also ask in the name Jesus that Kwesi Sample is found and returned back home. For all the angelic messages that surround us every day, God, we are grateful receivers. We know that FAITH is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambigiuities. Dear God you said in your message that you’ll keep us in perfect peace that is if we keep our minds set on you. Every second of the day, I remind myself that prayer changes. Raynette and family are very dear to us. Our hearts are heavy and we are all grieving but through this all I ask that your everlasting love surround Raynette and family so that they do not feel as though they walk this thing alone. In Jesus name I pray..AMEN

  • Tiffany Johnson says:

    Oh Raynette I am so very sorry for your lost! I just heard about it at work today and broke down and cried. I cried for your broken heart and the agony you must be going through! We know Kwesi is in a better place. My husband and I are heartbroken for you and your family. We will never forget how you were there for us when our Destiny broke her arm many years ago. We live in Charlotte NC now and we are a short drive from Holden beach. If there’s anything you need please don’t hesitate to ask. I ask in Jesus name for the ocean to release Kwesi so he can be brought back home to his mother..,.. In Jesus name AMEN

  • Michael Renz says:

    Mrs. Sample, I want you to know that everyones heart aches at your loss. Your son was a fine young man and the world is a poorer place for his passing. We can not imagine the pain you are suffering but we do know you have much to be proud of, in raising such a decent son. You and your son are in my families prayers. Kwezi was loved by all those who knew him.

  • Jeanne says:

    Nettie, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart is broken for you. Please know that my prayers are with you. I remember when he came into this world. It’s so hard to believe.


  • Raynette Cornish says:

    As his mother, it is easy for me to want to blame. I am reaching out to all of you to pray that his body is found so we can have him home. Pray saying his name so that we can all touch and agree that it is time to properly put him to rest. I love and miss you so so much son. Please come up, baby please.

  • kaymay says:

    I am so very sorry for what you are going through, Ma’am.

  • cdaniels says:

    You have my prayers and my deepest condolences at this time. You have every right to be proud of your son, he was a good man of God with a great heart. My kids are in the high school group and they too have been touched by Kwesi and still cannot believe this has happened. I pray for you and all who knew him for the closure you seek, and God willing a miracle. God bless you and keep you through this time of sorrow and know as I do you will see Kwesi again one day he may be gone but not lost.

  • osustudent says:

    No, they weren’t drinking.

  • ohipb says:

    was any of his friends drinking,they celebrate with alcohol.

  • David says:

    I look at the picture this morning of this young man who lost his life swimming with his friends and my eyes fill with tears. Can’t help it. I think of his friends, his family, the future he no longer has in front of him and I cry for him, sitting here in front of my PC. My sadness is tinged with a little anger, though, at how some of the local media have handled the story of the loss of this young man. One would think or assume that people living in a coastal region, specifically the Carolina coast, and especially those that convey pertinent local news and information to us, would have a heightened knowledge of the area, of coastal living and, maybe more importantly, some common sense. I’ve watched two news reporters state that the Lockwood Folly inlet is “one of the most dangerous bodies of water in Brunswick county”, with one opening his report stating “Lockwood Folly inlet may look peaceful NOW, but…” Should it be said that the inlet is a “dangerous body of water”? It most certainly should be…. Dangerous to SWIM in, as ANY and ALL open ocean inlets are. This poor young fellow, God rest his soul, made a mistake and it cost him his life. The story of his death is awful enough without reporters attempting to sensationalize it further by vilifying the area in which it took place. With the obvious exceptions being during hurricanes and nor’easters, I would venture to say that the Lockwood Folly inlet and the shorelines of Holden Beach and Oak Island ARE “peaceful” and beautiful places most all of the time. In fact, and especially when compared to places like Nagshead and the Outerbanks, Brunswick county beaches are known to be among the safest on the east coast. In my lifetime I’ve personally witnessed two drownings that occurred at places I absolutely cherish: Oak Island and Buxton, N.C. Although those images are burned into my mind, they do not and can not diminish my love for those areas. None of us want to associate tragedy, loss and sadness with the places we love to be. We just all need to be mindful of the dangers and to be careful and diligent with our friends, our families and ourselves.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    …tidal currents. Inlets are always restrictions where millions of gallons of water flow in and out as the tide changes. Even areAs adjacent to the inlets will have unpredictable currents that can take the best of swimmers away. The only time an inlet isn’t dangerous is at slack tide, that few minute where the tide stops and reverses its cycle.

    Any inlet, anywhere is an area that should always be avoided by swimmers. That’s just simple, basic coastal knowledge.

  • nchilltopper says:

    This is the inlet that separates Holden Beach from Long Beach. You can reach this inlet quickly by boat if you put in under the bridge in Holden. By car, take a left off bridge and drive to the end. The current is VERY strong in the inlet and would be nearly impossible for most people, including athletes, to make safe passage during the tides.

  • NHC Resident says:

    I am a resident of New Hanover County and we frequently take our children to swim and play in the Oak Island/Holden Beach area. When these types of things happen (i.e. the drowning last Summer at Snow’s Cut, drowning in Castle Hayne) people always come on here and talk about what dangerous areas these are to swim. I am a resident here and don’t even know these locations. Where is this area that they are calling “one of the most dangerous places to swim in Brunswick County”?! If residents don’t even know, how can we expect visitors and tourists to know? What can we do to provide more safety in our area? I know we do a large rip current campaign, but how about a “dangerous currents” sign?

  • stwth says:

    Excellent point! I thought that myself with the Snow’s Cut incident.

    From my Heavenly Father

  • Lazarus says:

    I may sound crazy but I won’t believe kwesi is not gone until his body is found anyone who knows him knows he is a strong young man and not only that a man of god. God has worked a way out of no way before I know he is able to do it again. But if god really has called him home I guess that just means he needed a warrior beside him. Kwesi has touched many lives with his gentle and kind spirit and I know he will continue to do so.

  • Ms. Russell says:

    It is basic coastal knowledge if you live there or on a coast. That is the point – people are coming all over for this event and no one warns them of the danger? No signs, no warning – nothing?

  • Vog46 says:

    There’s little swimming in Snows Cut for that reason as well.


  • Vog46 says:

    No lifeguards either
    Too early for them.
    Ever heard of personal responsibility?
    A stranger, swimming in unknown waters, with no life guards present?
    And you want to put up signs?


  • Guest Cailin Shea says:

    If anyone knows anything please speak up! Kwesi was not the best swimmer why did any of you leave him alone. This is not right. Our hearts are filled with sorrow. Find Kwesi!!!

  • Tara says:

    This is not the time for a blame game. Our hearts are breaking for our lost brother and unnecesary cruel comments like are neither helpful nor appropriate. Shame on you!

  • Guest1 says:

    I too am confused. This story is different from the one that the Brunswick Beacon reported. The Beacon stated that he had attempted to swim across the inlet during low tide as it was rising. A woman saw what was going on and told his friends to stop him because of the danger. The Beacon article suggested he was the only one swimming the inlet and while some others were also swimming, they werent all on the sandbar. How else could this woman have warned his friends if they were all out there? The article suggests she was the one who called 911.

  • amyb323 says:

    Cailin … He was not left alone. He was with a group, and a couple went after him. Tides, rip currents, etc are to blame. Others did what they were able to do. Even the strongest of swimmers could have trouble in those areas.

  • daughter of christ says:

    They were with him they just couldnt find him after he went under. You dont think they are already blaming themselves because they lost a brother of christ yesterday. They did all they did all they could and they risked their owns lives staying in that current trying to find him.

  • Jess says:

    He wasn’t left alone. It was a tragic accident. No judgements. God is good in all of this.

  • sueh says:

    Cailin, this group represents Christ in the most glorifying way. Kwesi was a brother in Christ. They did not leave him alone, in fact those with him searched and dove to find him. Those who were with him are the most grieved. Please don’t rush to a conclusion that isn’t true. These young people love each other and grieve Kwesi. They live to glorify Christ!

  • BEACH RAT says:

    This happens so often when people come from out of town to our beaches to enjoy themselves. The beach is not a pool and the best swimmers can find themselves in trouble quick if they are not mindful of their surroundings. The beach currents can have a frigthening effect on you if you dont know what to do in those circumstances.

    sorry for your loss!!!

  • Wanda Coneybeer says:

    Kwesi was with a loving group of young Jesus followers.They did not abandon him. The ocean is a dangerous and unforgiving place to swim and I am sure that he & his friends were unaware of their danger. My heart goes out to his family and friends and I am just sick about his loss, even tho I know he is with God in heaven. Please pray for them all.

  • mama H. says:

    Cailin, rest assured that Kwesi was with his brothers and sisters in Christ. Those immediately with him did try to save him. They loved him and continue to grieve his loss. They are using this devasting loss to the Glory of God, just as he would want as a believer.

  • jj says:

    This is so sad. People come to the area and they don’t realize how dangerous the inlets can be. My prayers are with his family.

  • Meagan says:

    I know the police have said a life jacket would have saved him last night. My brother got there while they were calling 911 for help in finding him. I showed up a little after to make sure my brother and his gf were okay who were fishing on the sandbar that they were swimming to, we didnt know what had happened. I dont understand why they have not created a beach rescue station with equipment some one could have used to rescue him with they would have been able to save him. There are many people who have drowned there something needs to be done. The guy who called 911 told my brother he could tell he was having a hard time but he wasnt a good enough swimmer to get him. This is just so sad when a life saving tube could have been thrown to him or even a rope to pull him in.

  • stwth says:

    I wondered whether an escort boat shouldn’t have been along with them but you know youth… especially if he was that athletic AND a skilled swimmer. When I heard what they were trying to do, it sure sounded awfully ambitious. Such a handsome young man, sounds like he had a promising future. And for such an uplifting event to be marred by so great a tragedy. I’ve been praying for all, friends and family, since I learned of this, praying for a miracle though it sounds like that’s not likely from the circumstances.

  • Courtney says:


  • Guestsfndi says:

    Why did god let him drown?

  • God says:

    *Only after you’re dead.

  • cdaniels says:

    The kids here from the high school group and the parents all mourn the loss of Kwesi as well, we have had him in our thoughts and prayers as well as all of you who are there waiting, wondering and grieving.
    I only new Kwesi in passing at the Cafe and seeing him at Krogers, please remember Kwesi may be gone but he is far from lost. He is still watching and praying over all of us.My heart breaks for all of you who knew him well and realize many of us missed out on a great young man of God.
    God be with you in your time of grief. Remember we do not grieve as others do, He is with our Father and we will see him again. I saw Kwesi’s mom on the news last night she said he always said his purpose was to bring people to Christ I pray that we can all remember that and carry on for him and Jesus.God has a purpose in all things for those He loves and are called to His purpose. We know even in this time of sorrow this is still true.

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