New Hanover County teacher dies rescuing children caught in rip current at Kure Beach

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(Photo: Pixabay)

KURE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A woman died while trying to rescue two children caught in a rip current in Kure Beach over the weekend.

Kure Beach Police Department says officials were dispatched to the N. Avenue Beach access regarding multiple swimmers in distress around 5:45 p.m. Sunday.

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Witnesses told police two children were caught in a rip. In an attempt to rescue them, several bystanders and members of the Kure Beach Fire Department entered the water and successfully brought the children to shore.

One rescuer, Jessica Lea Embry, of Wilmington, became distressed as she assisted the rescue. She was taken to shore and given CPR but was unsuccessful. She died at the scene.

According to New Hanover County Schools, Embry was an orchestra teacher at Ashley High School.

“There are no words I can offer to express how profound this loss is for our school and community,” said Ashley High Principal Patrick McCarty said in a news release. “I struggle to speak about this incident to others because of the type of person Jessica Embry was personally and professionally. Ms. Embry worked at our school for nearly nine years as an Orchestra Teacher. Ms. Embry was also a deeply committed advocate for Ashley High School. In addition to her passion in the classroom, she loved the arts and played a significant part in our community.”

McCarty said Embry began a group called, “United Sound”, that paired special needs students with those in her orchestra class. Through that partnership, the students were able to get hands-on experience with instruments and learn how to play music. The group even played the national anthem during the county’s last Special Olympics event.

“Ms. Embry’s impact was profound and she will be greatly missed by all,” McCarty said.

“Jessica Embry was a sister, a daughter, a missionary, incredible orchestra teacher, and a mentor both in our Wilmington Community and in the NHCS Arts family to her colleagues and her students,” said NHCS Lead Arts Director, Jacki Booth. “She approached every day as a challenge to be a better person and to help more people in the process. She will be greatly missed.”

“My sincerest condolences go out to Ms. Embry’s family, friends, and colleagues,” said NHCS Superintendent, Dr. Charles Foust. “She was a wonderful educator who had given years of service to NHCS. We greatly appreciate all she did for the music program at Ashley High School and the guidance she provided for so many students over the past decade. The impact she has left behind will last a lifetime.”

Embry has been employed by New Hanover County Schools since 2010. Before coming to Ashley, she worked at Myrtle Grove Middle.

Grief counseling teams are currently at Ashley High and are providing services for both students and staff. They will remain at the school for as long as needed.

According to Kure Beach Police, another rescuer was taken to the hospital for observation. Several others were treated at the scene.

“The Kure Beach Police Department commends the heroic efforts and sacrifice made by Jessica Embry, bystanders, and rescuers,” the department wrote in a release. “Jessica Embry, along with all involved are credited for the lives of the children.”