Topsail Beach Police urging caution after 62-year-old drowns

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Rip current safety 06/13/19 (Photo: Kate Cornell)

TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Topsail Beach police chief is urging swimmers to be careful after a man drowned Wednesday afternoon.

Topsail Beach Police Chief Sam Gervase said it happened just after 4:30 p.m. Wednesday near Beach Access Three on North Anderson Boulevard. Gervase said the water was very rough yesterday.

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Chief Gervase said Jerry Thompson, 62, from Hampstead was swimming by himself. Gervase said a good Samaritan saw Thompson swimming one minute and then he disappeared the next. He said the good Samaritan then pulled Thompson from the water. Gervase said it could have been a rip current, but they are not sure right now.

James T. Forsythe witnessed what was going on and called 911. He described the scene for WWAY.

“All of a sudden, the first thing I heard was somebody yelling ‘help me, help me,'” Fosythe said. “He was pulling somebody in from the surf. It turned out to be the man who died.”



Chief Gervase said police, EMS, and fire crews responded. Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although it is being investigated as a drowning, Forsythe believes there could have been a medical factor.

“There was speculation that possibly the victim suffered some medical problem that caused him to fall in the water because he wasn’t that far out,” Forsythe said.

Chief Gervase says there have been conflicting accounts from different witnesses. He is urging people to use caution in the water right now especially with the storm off our coast.

“With storms off the coast and things like that, that will typically churn up the water. We’re advising people to use caution when they’re out there if they’re going to be swimming,” Gervase said.

An autopsy report will reveal the true cause of death.