EMERALD ISLE, NC (WCTI) — A little more than five months into 2019, three drownings at Emerald Isle beaches have the town implementing improved measures to ensure water safety.
Ian Lewis and Paige Merical were caught in a rip current back in April. Lewis’ body was found washed up on the shore. Merical was rescued from the water but her family had to make the tough decision to take her off life support a few days later.
The same thing happened to Justin Hinds, a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, on May 4. His friends were able to pull him from the water. He was taken to the hospital but passed away from his injuries the same day.
You might be familiar with the flag system used in the past to keep beachgoers safe. If you see red flags flying at the beach, that means there is a high risk of danger in the water. That is typically the highest level the flag goes to.
But this year, for the first time ever in Emerald Isle, the town will fly a double red flag if necessary. By United States Lifeguard Association rules, a double red flag means the beach is closed. If you’re found in the water, you could be fined.