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Richard Mullins, died in rip current (Photo: Facebook)

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.

“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.


Comment on this Story

  • James Terry Fig

    “but she told WWAY just the day before Mullins had saved her.” So, he rescued the girlfriend the day before but still decided to tempt fate. I’m sorry for the families loss but, when you choose to swim in the ocean it’s at your own risk, lifeguard or not! Holden Beach and all the other beaches are known not to have lifeguards due too the immense cost. If you want lifeguards go to New Jersey or other places where you have to pay for parking and to get on the beach. I live in this area, their are adequate signs posted about riptides. SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK. The people living on Holden Beach and surrounding area already have to deal with enough, drunk drivers, drunks falling off balconies, littering, feeding the gulls, sucking up all our resources at the local Walmart, rudeness, excessive traffic, now you want us to pay higher taxes for your safety during vacation…..NAH!!! We like our beaches just the way they are….specially after tourist season ends and we don’t have to deal with all the BS that goes with being a tourist town.

  • Anonymous Hero

    Jenny, I think the issue is the media. Since media always seems to have their own agenda nowadays, people are going to fight back. When someone loses a child, they are devastated and want to blame etc… until time passes and they can somewhat deal with the tragedy (the false blame and anger fades, but his pain will still be there.) But no one wants to see the media try and ramp up some ridiculous notion that the many many miles of our coastline must have lifeguards, when the people living on the coast can’t afford to pay for that many lifeguards. Lifeguards don’t guarantee rescue from rip currents or sharks, people take a risk going in the ocean. A risk well worth it. Very sad the one in a billion times that the low risk does end in tragedy. Hope his family can find peace. Medical Examiner and media need to check themselves.

  • guest45

    maybe the son should have spent as much time learning to read and understand signs as he did getting tats, it is clearly understood there is no life guards and the procedures you need to do to avoid and survive rip currents are posted, if you have not taught your children how to accept personal responsibility then all I can say is I am sorry for your loss.

    • cheese101

      He obviously didn’t make good choices as his prison record from Kentucky shows.

  • MandyW.

    I was once caught in a rip current on Panama City Beach Zack in 2005. There was lifeguards there. …but I had drifted so far out It was hard for me to get me head above the waves n my arms were to busy trying to swim parallel to the current that I just could not make the lifeguards see me quickly enough…..if it was not for a suffer n An Angel watching over me…I’m sure that day I would have succumb to my Panic n Anxiety. RIP CURRENTS ARE N ALWAYS SHOULD BE A REASON TO STAY FOCUSED AT THE BEACH AND THE WATER AROUND U…..BE SURE TO HAVE A BUDDY THERE IF U GO TO FAR-OUT AND KEEP A FLOATING DEVICE NEAR IF U DO GO OUT ALONE! Simply Be Prepared is My only Way Now!

  • Bill Powell

    He has probably had a lot of ambulance chasers talking to him. $$$ signs in his eyes.

  • Steve Smith

    Iam absolutely certain that the examiner did NOT say the outcome would have been d8fferent. That statement if patently false. The beach ends all have notices of rips and how to handle them. It is sad that people should forfeit their lives because they failed to take heed of warnings nor accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. I guess the rules warnings and signs are for someone else. Sinloi

  • James Last

    Perhaps he can find someone to sue…

    • Jenny Cornett

      Seriously?? Everyone of you commenting on this, I wanna no do u really have that cold of a heart?? Do you??? Let this father mourn for his son in any way he needs to!! Do you no what he is feeling? Do you no the pain he has in his heart??? NO!! YOU DO NOT!!! SO IF ALL YOU WANNA DO IS POST NEGITIVE COMMENTS INSTEAD OF PRAYING FOR THIS FAMILY, I THINK ALL OF YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!! GOD FORBID IT EVER HAPPEN TO ANY OF YOU!!!

  • caryncmom

    In the past decade there have been many deaths at beaches with lifeguards, including Kure and Wrightsville and Carolina. The town of Holden Beach is comprised of only the homes on the island. There is not enough tax payer revenue to fund the cost of lifeguards or the cost of the liability insurance that is incurred when you have lifeguards. If people want a beach with lifeguards then they should rent or buy elsewhere.

    • Steve Smith

      Not to mention the lability insurance because the town will be sued because you couldn’t fix stupid

  • stilts1939

    Very sad that he lost his life, but the way to cope with rip currents is well publicized. Having a lifeguard just where you want to swim makes no sense. Was he really swimming near an inlet?

    • Gary Schilling

      Pretty sure I read that he tried to swim from Holden Beach to Oak Island.
      When I 1st moved here, I asked someone @ the point if it was ok to swim there.
      They said yes. I got 1/2 way out and noticed I was being pulled into the ocean by the strong current.
      At the time I was an avid swimmer and in great shape. Took everything I had to get back on shore.
      There were and are still no signs warning of strong currents in that area. The rip current warnings are on the ocean side.

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