Four drownings this week have Brunswick Co. visitors on alert
 

HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Another drowning in Brunswick County yesterday brings the total this week to four. Randall Joyce drowned at Holden Beach after getting caught in a rip current with his family.

The news has many tourists on edge.

"Today it's really, really strong, and it's pulling you really hard," said Karoline Nelson of Seagrove, as she visited Holden Beach.

Strong rip currents continued today along a coastline without lifeguards in Brunswick County.

"They should at least show the warning flags, 'cause that could be little money to spent to save somebody's life," said Donna Shoemaker, who is vacationing from Davie County.

With at least four deaths this week, swimmers are on alert.

"It can happen so quickly, and they'll be gone," Linda Laitinen of Gastonia said.

Parents say they are extremely vigilant watching their kids in the water, especially with these currents.

"We keep a pretty close eye on our kids when they're out in the water and try not to let them get out too far," said Steve Hedgpeth of Virginia.

The National Weather Service says the strongest rip currents happen during a two-hour window on either sides of low tide. Today that meant the most dangerous time for swimming was between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visitors said they planned on limiting how deep they would go in.

"We'll just stay knee to waist high and not go out too far," Hedgepeth said.

Michael Holden grew up on the beach. He says swimmers need to be more careful when they are unfamiliar with the water.

"It just comes with the territory," he said. "There are tons of beaches that don't have lifeguards on them."

Holden Beach is known for having a family-friendly atmosphere. Resident Toni Holden says it hurts to know some families this year are going home without their loved ones.

"We don't want anyone to come here and lose their life," she said.

Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith says the town has increased law enforcement on the beach, because of the drowning there Wednesday.

Holden Beach police say at least one officer patrols the beach warning visitors about currents every day.

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In light of the four drownings that have occurred in Brunswick County this week, isn't it time for the islands of Holden, Ocean Isle and Sunset to open their coffers and hire lifeguards for the summer season? Erecting lifeguard towers and hiring lifeguards would be a small price to pay to keep locals and tourists safe in the water and on the beaches. Response time would be faster, which may save a life. Beach patrol officers warn people of the dangers of rip currents but are they qualified to perform ocean rescues if necessary? The time spent calling 911 and waiting for help to arrive could be the difference between life and death for someone caught in any potentially dangerous situation.

It seems like that would be such an easy solution to just hire a bunch of lifeguards and start a new program for a town doesn't it? But reality is that it isn't that easy. It isn't that cost effective and you cant just hire a bunch of guards and expect the program to work. It takes time and a lot of money to get a good program in place in order for it to be effective.
A lifeguard program in all of the beach towns would be nice and Im sure that it would draw more people to our beaches if they were protected. BUT, it sure isn't stopping people from flocking to all of the islands in the summer all knowing that their are no lifeguards and it is a swim at your own risk beach.

If the town provides lifeguards, do they open themselves up to liability if someone drowns while in a watched area?

its like who cares , they know better next time.

Well Sue, considering your thoughtful comment, as the daughter of the man who passed you really have some nerve. I hope you never go through such a tragic loss. Obviously you have no one to care for or vise versa. You are ignorant, heartless, mentally off, mean spirited and just unstable in every sense of the word. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone, even you.. I hope you find God because you clearly need a change of heart and some extensive guidance. Good luck with that feat. Feel free to come back with any other insensitive comment, my e-mail is clearly listed. God bless you.

Well Sue, considering your thoughtful comment, as the daughter of the man who passed you really have some nerve. I hope you never go through such a tragic loss. Obviously you have no one to care for or vise versa. You are ignorant, heartless, mentally off, mean spirited and just unstable in every sense of the word. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone, even you.. I hope you find God because you clearly need a change of heart and some extensive guidance. Good luck with that feat. Feel free to come back with any other insensitive comment. I'm sure that you will due to your complete ignorance. God bless you.

I have been following the story about Randy Joyce. My family and I were on the beach that afternoon and my husband was one of the men that helped him out of the water. I also was praying with his wife and daughter. For anyone out there who is afraid that their property taxes would go up if there were Lifeguards on the beach, well that is the most insensitive comment I have ever heard. See how much your property taxes would go up with NO tourism dollars. My husband says that a lifeguard may not of been able to save the man, but it would have led to a quicker response time. I truly am praying for this family as they were enjoying a vacation just like anyone else. A local also said that "locals Know the water". This man was trying to save his family from danger. Please think before you speak!!

"We'll just stay knee to waist high and not go out too far," PLEASE don't think this is "safer". If you aren't sure...DON'T GO IN THE WATER!

while rip currents are possible at any time, as the post notes, the most sever currents will be between 10 AM and 2 PM.

Common Sense should dictate visitors, who are unfamiliar with the ebb and flow of tides, use caution at all times. And if you are allowing young children in the water, you should be in the water with them.

They are dependent on the tidal cycles and the prevailing wind. An on-shore wind AND 2 hours before and 2 hours after high tide are the "ideal conditions" to set up rip currents. However, as you said, they can occur at anytime.