Lifeguards respond to a dozen Memorial Day incidents


Starting Saturday, May 23, hoards of beachgoers converged on Wrightsville Beach to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. And while Saturday and Sunday were relatively incident-free, Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue captain Jeremy Owens said the lifeguards made 10 rescues Monday and responded to one major medical emergency.

The lifeguards flew yellow flags from their stands the majority of the three-day weekend, Owens said, indicating a moderate risk of hazardous swimming conditions. Saturday and Sunday, there wasn’t much swell in the water, and winds were light out of the east.

Monday, Owens said, increased winds kicked up a windswell and caused some rip currents to form around low tide. He said the highest risk of rip currents forming is typically two hours before or after low tide. That time period fell in the morning and afternoon, when fewer people were in the water.

While the ocean conditions contributed to some of the distress calls, Owens said a lot of the situations were more due to a lack of swimming ability.

The medical emergency happened on the beach. Owens said the incident occurred at 12:10 p.m. Monday near Charlotte Street. Beachgoers flagged down a lifeguard on an ATV, telling him a man wasn’t breathing. The bystanders originally thought the man was choking, but Owens said it was later speculated he had a stroke.

Lieutenant Sam Proffitt performed rescue breathing on the man and was able to get him breathing on his own, so when Emergency Medical Services arrived to transport him to the hospital, he was breathing and had a pulse. Owens said he did not know the current condition of the patient.

Also on Monday, Owens said the lifeguards responded to four cases of missing children and a flipped Jet Ski near Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s department said in a Tuesday press release it is conducting a death investigation from a presumed drowning on Monday at Figure Eight Island. The call came into New Hanover County 911 at 11:19 a.m. for a water rescue. Fourty-one-year-old Jose Rodriguez had gone into the water to assist a friend when he went missing. The man was missing for 20-30 minutes when he was located and brought to shore by responding firefighters and EMS, the report said. Life-saving measures were taken but the man could not be resuscitated.


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