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Four drownings this week have Brunswick Co. visitors on alert

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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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