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UPDATED: Surfer drowns at Surf City

READ MORE: UPDATED: Surfer drowns at Surf City

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.

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surfer drowns at topsail

I've been in the water all my life. And I support the idea that lifeguards are needed at this beach. I myself have had to pull inexperienced swimmers to the sand. And every time I do the thought of( where are the guards when you need them. I totally feel for the family of Kurt's rightnow and my prayers go out to them and the friends that are going through this tragic time.


Lifeguard stands close down after Labor Day. They wouldn't have been there to save this young man. Our weather permits ocean activities way into the fall why aren't lifeguards there for the local people and the few vacationers who come in the fall? Not necessarily have all the stands open but a few with notice where they are for people who feel safer near one.

A tragic and sad loss

and now the life long mourning will begin for his parents and his Grandparents.

This could have been prevented. The media was complete in forecasting rip currents. This was a day which should have seen the beaches closed for surfers and swimmers.

Surf City does not maintain life gaurds. Candidly, I'm not certain their presence could have saved the young man's life.

But the Town Council could enact some rules for beach closure when conditions are of this nature. They can not bring him back; they can take steps to prevent a reoccurance.

I saw the rip current and

I saw the rip current and dangerous condition warnings issued as soon as they mentioned that Igor was churning. I have lived there all my life and surfers live for the obscence wave which is hard to find here.
I'm sad that it ended so tragically this time but the warnings were clear and in place for a very good reason.
I have seen lifeguards or bystanders lose thier lives trying to save those that insist on going against all warnings and we know that even the best swimmers do drown.
The ocean is a powerful force especially with the storms churning but you can believe, the next one they'll be right back out there.
Condolences to the family. I'm so sorry.

I was on the beach yesterday

I was on the beach yesterday when he was pulled into shore and worked on,being in the medical field and a prior EMT (there were many helping and more would have just got in the way), I believe the responders did a very good job with the circumstances they had. The real problem they had was people getting in the way and not knowing how to act in a crisis. Friends trying to sit/stand right next to them when they are working on him, threatening to beat people up. I understand emotions and how hard it is to watch helplessly while someone is dying, but you cant put the fact that he died on anyone. It was an accident and its very unfortunate that it happened. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Kurt.

I was also there on the

I was also there on the beach that day and saw them pull him out of the water... I have been a Nursing Asst for 15 years and I work in a major hospital. I really wanted to jump in there myself but I couldn't since I just had abdominal surgery 3 weeks ago... I heard a guy that was standing up on the pier say that Kurt had been in the water at least 10 minutes before anyone even pulled him out. I also heard from someone near me say that when the wave hit him it caused his surfboard to hit him in the head and brake his neck. That to me would explain why he was laying on the bottom of the ocean floor with no way of even trying to save himself.... It was very heart breaking to see this and I said a prayer that day for the family of this young man and that God would give them peace that passeth all understandings.....


the blurb doesn't state anything the GROUP did to save his life except pull him it is difficult to determine just how long he number one was down and number two if he got ANY medical attention IMMEDIATELY both when he came up and when he got on the beach. THOSE two things were the most important moments following his drowning. Of course...he may have been down too long and it was too late anyway...this is the reason that EVERYONE should take it upon themselves to take AT LEAST CPR and really should take the next step and get First Aid and AED can never have too many people around that know BASIC first saves peoples lives EVERY DAY! As a 12 year veteran of the medical field...we can only do so much with what is handed to us on a scene....those PRECIOUS moments between the accident and EMS arriving COUNT BIG TIME! ESPECIALLY in a case like this!

My heart goes out to the family as this is a TRAGIC loss..but should serve as a reminder that you just never know when your time is going to be you better be prepared. It reminds you of how precious life is and how quick it can be gone.

I agree with everything you

I agree with everything you said but if he was a turtle the people of Topsail would have been running and they would have revived him. God please be with the family and friends of this young man. I'm sure they will miss him greatly. We will be praying for you all!