SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) -- All weekend long Hurricane Igor, far off at sea, created some big waves for surfers. But one surfer's life suddenly ended in the surf Sunday. Kurt Murray, 21, drowned while surfing near the Surf City Pier around 2 p.m.
"It sucks that he lost his life to what he loved to do: surf," friend Kyle Sumer said.
Sumer grew up with Murray. Sumer says Sunday another surfer told Murray's friend that Murray caught a wave, but had not come back up. The friend spotted Murray's surfboard and followed the leash to the ocean floor. The friend dragged Murray's body to the surface, and about 15 people helped bring him to shore.
"About 300 people standing around, including little children, and I witnessed his dad there and what he went through," said witness Del Carmen Laynes Araya said.
Murray was extremely close to his dad, and it seems like everyone in town knew him.
"Everybody's rooting, 'Bring him back. Come back. Wake up,' and you're thinking that it's going to work, and you see everything that's going on with the meds and the tubes and the compressions and the shocks but..." Laynes Araya said.
Murray was an experienced surfer. Sumer says they took trips to Puerto Rico together and had another one planned for Murray's dad's birthday.
"He just always charged," Sumer said. "Like the biggest set would come in, and he was the one on it, always. We're like, 'Oh my God. Kurt. Why are you going on that wave?' You know, he just always wanted to be in the biggest wave of the day and most of the time he did great."
Sumer says some surfers were not happy with the way Pender County EMS responded.
"My friends were telling me they looked very inexperienced on the scene that they had in front of them," Sumer said. "From the friends that told me, they didn't do a very good job yesterday on the beach. Really slow walking down the cross-over and just taking their time like it was just another day."
He says lifeguards are needed because the surfers usually end up saving people in distress. Sumer plans to get a big group of people and go to the next couple town council meetings to talk about getting lifeguards on this beach.
Pender EMS says one of the responders yesterday was one of the most experienced medics on staff. Deputy Chief David Stancil says in a cardiac arrest, transporting Murray's body to the ambulance right away would have taken up precious minutes needed to try to save his life.
Funeral plans are not yet set.