Father reacts to son’s death, blames lack of lifeguards


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — He was 24 years old, a father, and had just moved to the area. Sadly, Richard Mullins drowned over the weekend at a Brunswick County beach.

Just hours after search crews found his son’s body, Richard Mullins Sr. spoke to WWAY about his son’s drowning at Holden Beach.

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“I was angry, because the examiner had told me that she’s positive it would have been a different outcome if there had been lifeguards on duty,” Richard Mullins Sr. said.

Mullins Jr.’s body was found Sunday night after he was caught in a rip current earlier in the day. His father says Richard moved to Brunswick County from Kentucky to start a new life.

“He loved everybody, and he’s just always the happy person,” Richard Mullins Sr. said. “He lived his life to the fullest no matter what.”

Mullins Sr. says he could not believe it when he got the call his son was missing, and his body had been found. Then Mullins Sr. found out there are no lifeguards on any Brunswick County beaches, a situation he says needs to change.

“I definitely do think they should, or they shouldn’t even have the beach open; especially with the dangerous tides and riptides,” Richard Mullins Sr. said.

Money is one of the major reasons Brunswick County beaches do not have lifeguards. The Oak Island Water Rescue, which is made up of 20 volunteers, is one of several in the area hoping to fill the need for lifeguards.

“With over 10 miles of beach and 65 accesses, that they could not, there was just no way possible for them to afford lifeguards along that big strand,” Oak Island Water Rescue, Lt. John Frazer said. “And so this was formed in answer to that, to help out with shallow water rescue.”

The Oak Island Water Rescue helped the US Coast Guard in the search for Mullins, and they will continue to fight for others who need help.

But, in the meantime their advice is to stay clear of inlets and always have a flotation device handy.

“Don’t swim near an inlet. The currents are too strong. You cannot swim faster than the currents on a falling or rising tide,” Frazer said.

Mullins’s best friend Melinda Newman was with him when he was pulled out to sea. She was too upset to speak on camera, but she told WWAY just the day before Mullins had saved her.

Mullins’s death raises the rip current death toll to at least five across our state so far this year.