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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The family of a teenager who drowned at Carolina Beach two years ago is suing the town and the top emergency workers at the time of his death.

Geoffrey Okinyi Onguti of Raleigh died June 26, 2011, after a raft he and some friends were on overturned near the beach access at Harper Street.

The lawsuit claims that due to weather that day, then Ocean Rescue Director Alicia Lachance, who was off duty, director her assistant Elliott Bass to send lifeguards home. As a result, the suit claims, when the storm was over and Onguti and his friends returned to the beach, there were not enough lifeguards or warnings about rip currents.

The suit also questions the qualifications of Lachance and Bass. It also alleged Lachance and then Carolina Beach Police Chief William Younginer, who is also named in the suit, were having an affair when Lachance was hired, and that Younginer knew Lachance was not qualified for the job.

The family is asking for damages of at least $10,000.

Comment on this Story

  • Relentless SheepDog

    I love America, blame everyone that your child who couldn’t swim was in the ocean. I wonder if the town should sue the parents for not raising their child with common sense and thus causing wasted resources to be used to recover his body. There isn’t a certain number of lifeguards that could have prevented this incident or changed it in anyway. It is the ocean, it has taken entire ships to the grave. I hope the court system will eventually penalize ignorant people when their frivolous cases are dismissed, maybe we would could then efficiently handle “REAL” lawsuits.

  • SurfCityTom

    the very next paragraph and you will find the answer.

    Do you require spoon feeding?

  • gmark

    “The lawsuit claims that due to weather that day, then Ocean Rescue Director Alicia Lachance, who was off duty, director her assistant Elliott Bass to send lifeguards home.”

    What is this supposed to mean?

  • Guesttoo

    Newspaper says this kid was 19, he and his buddies didn’t know how to swim and one of the reasons that Carolina Beach was chosen was because there were lifeguards. But, the lawsuit also says that there were no lifeguards after a storm. Why go into the ocean when there were no lifeguards if their presence was a prerequisite?

    Then the stretch that this person drowned because the allegedly unqualified Ocean Rescue Director was allegedly having an affair with the Police Chief really says a lot about the quality of the legal representation.

    Maybe they can sue the float maker for making an unstable product next. Sue the waves while they are at it…after all, they had to be defective because they kept breaking.

    This tragedy was certainly preventable but I don’t see laying the blame on Carolina Beach. This ranks right up there with the “hot-coffee-in-the-lap” lawsuit against McDonalds.

  • frank

    Topsail dont have lifeguards so if I go drown can my family have a law suit wtf idiots


    Funny his obituary admits he couldn’t swim. Google it!

  • Guest2264

    First of all, I’m sorry for the family for the loss of your son.

    However, having lived at CB all of my life (50+) years….

    If you don’t know how to swim, wear a life jacket if you wish to enjoy the water! So what, people will know you can’t swim, but at least you’ll float! A raft or inner tube is not a safety device, it is meant for fun for those who know how to swim. At all of the parking areas I see there, all are marked with caution signs about rip currents. The ocean is not a shallow swimming pool, it can be very dangerous folks, and can change rapidly in stormy weather.
    To me, it’s understandable that the life guards left, if the weather was threatening, it’s not safe to be on the beach! If you don’t see a lifeguard on duty, don’t swim there! Even though a guard may be on duty, be cautious!
    I think this lawsuit is just plain crap. People have to start having more responsibility for their own actions. And 19? He wasn’t a little kid. He was a young adult!

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