HATTERAS ISLAND, N.C. (WAVY) — A 68-year-old Ohio man died Tuesday morning in a water-related incident off southern Hatteras Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the National Park Service said.
It is the second ocean death in just two days, with a 28-year-old Washington, D.C. woman having died in a separate water-related incident Monday in Avon, a few miles north of Hatteras Island.
A call to 911 came in around 10:30 a.m. for an unresponsive person in the ocean off southern Hatteras Island near off-road vehicle ramp 55, near the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and the Hatteras Ferry Terminal.
Two bystanders said the man was swimming in the ocean when he shouted for help, according to the National Park Service, and they saw the man go underwater. The bystanders swam out and pulled him to shore, and the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Dare County Emergency Medical Services, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad and the North Carolina Highway Patrol responded to the incident.
CPR efforts on the man were not successful.
A beach hazards statement is in effect Tuesday evening on Hatteras Island beaches for dangerous rip currents and large breaking waves in the surf zone.
“The Seashore sends condolences to the families and friends of the swimmers that lost their lives over the last two days,” said David Hallac, superintendent of the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina in a statement.
The National Park Service said high energy surf conditions — including large waves and life-threatening rip currents, are forecast for the rest of the week. It said people wading into the surf at levels even just waist deep “may be overcome by large waves, suffer injuries and may be overtaken by rough ocean conditions, making it difficult, if not impossible, for all but the strongest, most experienced swimmers to survive.”
It called for visitors to avoid getting into the water when the rip current risk is moderate or high, and when waves are more than one to two feet. It stressed that swimming off the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is “much more difficult” than swimming in a pool or lake, and only the most experienced swimmers with a leashed flotation device (bodyboard or surfboard) and a friend or family member on the beach to watch them should go in the ocean.
It noted the majority of surfers at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are competent athletes that have the skills, experience and time to engage in the sport, and encourged people to explore a sound-side beach, such as those at Haulover, Salvo and Devil Shoals Road sound access sites to experience the water in a safer environment.