A 67-year-old man died here Thursday after being caught in a rip current off Ramp 70, known as the airport ramp.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Chief Ranger Boone Vandzura confirmed that the man was a visitor to the island and had been swimming with a younger man when a strong surf got even stronger.
Vandzura declined to release the name of victim or age of the survivor pending notification of next of kin. He did say that neither man was from North Carolina.
He explained that the 911 call came in at 2:57 Thursday.
The two men were swimming beyond the breakers about 60 yards out.
“They had a brief conversation about how strong the current was, then it just got them,” Vandzura said. “They tried to reach each other, but a wave took them.”
The younger man made it back to the beach and immediately called 911. Shortly after that, the victim washed ashore away from where the two had been swimming.
Vandzura said emergency personnel did CPR on victim but they were unsuccessful in reviving him.
He said the victim was transported to the medical examiner’s office in Greenville, Pitt County, for determination of death.
“Our thoughts are with the family,” Vandzura said.
An islander who asked that her name not be used was nearby when the fatality occurred and that the ocean was unusually strong Thursday.
Even in the deep pools in front of the sandbars, the water was much stronger than usual, she said, and the rip currents were not visible as they usually are.
In addition to NPS law enforcement officers, Vandzura said the following responded to the scene: the lifeguards at the day use beach, the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, Hyde County EMS and Hyde County sheriff’s deputies.
More so than dangerous wildlife, rip currents pose the biggest threat to swimmers in the OBX waters, officials say.
To read the Observer story last year about rip currents, click here.
For Ocracoke news, click here.