North Topsail first responders still searching for missing swimmer

“We are holding out hope, we want to bring closure to the family,” said NTB Fire Chief Chad Soward
N Topsail Beach
Credit: Annick Joseph | WWAY
First responders continue to search for 24-year-old man who went missing Friday at North Topsail Beach

UPDATE: According to the North Topsail Beach Town Manager Alice Derian, the boat search has now been suspended due to weather conditions. Fire rescue is continuing to do spot checks Saturday evening and will resume the search Sunday morning.


NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) – North Topsail Beach and Onslow County Emergency personnel continue to search for a 24-year-old missing swimmer at the North end of North Topsail Beach.

This is the second day of the search, that began Friday, after Moses and his little brother Jayden, who is 12-years-old, went exploring and got into trouble after the tide started rising while out on a sandbar.

The family was getting ready to prepare dinner and went looking for the brothers along the beach when their uncle saw their belongings but not his nephews, according to Christopher Githire, who asked WWAY not to use the victims last name.

Githire asked around if anyone had seen his nephews, when a woman on the beach pointed in the direction of a wrecked shrimp boat, that’s when he saw them swimming back to shore.

Jayden and Moses didn’t appear to be in distress at first, but that quickly changed.

“They weren’t moving into shore, you could see them swim, swim, swim, but then kind of like get pushed back,” he said. “So he (Moses) was able to let his brother know what to do order to keep on.”

Which was lay on his back to conserve energy, while help arrived, he said.

According to Githire, he waved down a passing police officer who called for a lifeguard, and was able to rescue Jayden, but when rescue came back for Moses, he could not be found.

“The police officer flagged them down (water rescue) but by the time we looked over at them (the brothers) it was just one,” he said. “We are keeping our hopes up, were not going to give up on Moses.”

According to North Topsail Beach Fire Chief Chad Soward, they resumed their search Saturday morning at about 5:15.

“We wanted to start at sunrise that’s when the winds calm down, we’ve been continuing all day,” he said.  “We are holding out hope, we want to bring closure to the family.”

According to Soward, sandbars get most swimmers into trouble, they walkout into the ocean, the water is up to their knees giving swimmers a false sense of security. Then unexpectedly the tide rises, now the water is up to their neck, and that is what happened Friday when the brothers walked out on the sandbar toward the shipwreck.

“The tide changes about every six hours, and it constantly rises and constantly falls,” he said. “Unfortunately, yesterday, the wind was blowing in with the rising tide, so it was making the tide rise faster, so that’s why they were caught off guard.”

North Topsail Beach Town Manager Alice Derian urges swimmers who visit the area to research the area.

“We did have an incident similar to this in nature in the inlet area a few weeks back, we had lost someone who went missing,” she said. “This is the same type of situation; we always ask that people learn the area when they come, educate themselves, read the signage, it’s important.”

Derian is staying optimistic.

“Our hearts go out to the family,” she said. “Our personnel, our staff, our fire rescue, our police and all of the different agencies that are there supporting us, were here, and going to continue to search and hopefully bring them closure.”

Jayden and Moses’ aunt Wambui, who did not want her last name used, said her family want to give gratitude to all first responders and those who manage their vacation home rental.

“We are grateful and thankful for Fire Chief Chad Soward, for standing with us, and supporting us until now,” she said. “The fire department gentleman who pulled Jayden out of the water, and the police officers who stayed out at the beach way into the night with us, and lastly, to the Tiffany, Stan and the whole Carolina Stays team who have been very caring and supportive during this time.”

Jayden and Moses’ mother does not want to be mentioned by name but wanted to share her story through family members, in hopes it can save a life and educate those not familiar with sandbars, tides and rip currents.

When heading to the beach check the weather and rip current conditions by clicking here, do not venture into water past your knees, and don’t assume sandbars are safe, they can be very deep on either side, and can catch swimmers off guard, according to Soward.

To check for tide times, click here.

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