Cape Hatteras National Seashore Visitor Dies After Unsuccessful Shore Rescue Attempt

by TK Sanders

Bystanders tried to save a swimmer struggling off the coast of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but the man died when they pulled him onto the beach. The National Park Service said the attempted rescue happened the afternoon of Wednesday, June 15, “on an oceanside beach across from Sandy Bay on Hatteras Island.”

The man was not a tourist; he was a 66-year-old local from the town of Buxton, which is a North Carolina Outer Banks community.

“A 66-year-old male collapsed on the beach after being rescued from the ocean by bystanders. The bystanders immediately began CPR efforts,” officials said. “After arriving at the scene … Dare County Emergency Medical Services continued CPR, which was not successful.”

Officials are currently calling the death a “medical-related incident” rather than a drowning.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is located in notoriously difficult waters off the coast of the Tar Heel state. Currents from the north and south sides of the Atlantic collide there, making for choppy, unsafe waters. Rip currents often trap uninitiated swimmers, pulling them out to sea while exhausting them at the same time.

If you ever find yourself in a rip current where you begin drifting out to sea, do not try to swim directly to shore. Always swim laterally, parallel to the beach, until you free yourself from the rip current.

Near Cape Hatteras in Ocean Isle, a young angler made an improbably catch

Some good news also came out of the Outer Banks region this week, too. Carolina teen Charles Kenneth Noonan, 18, caught a likely world record Pompano Dolphinfish off the coast of Ocean Isle Beach. The International Game Fish Association needs to certify the 11-pound, 5.4-ounce fish for the All Tackle World Record. Noonan, who is from South Carolina, was on a high school graduation fishing trip to the Outer Banks when he made the massive catch.

The current certified world record Pompano Dolphinfish weighed 8-pounds, 8-ounces. An angler caught it off the coast of Maryland in 2008. Noonan’s fish measured 30.5 inches fork length (from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail) and had a 17.25-inch girth. He used a 7-foot custom rod and dead ballyhoo as bait.

To establish a state record fish, the angler must weigh the fish on certified scales at an official North Carolina weigh station. Then, the angler must submit an application to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, where it is then reviewed by staff. To even earn a review the fish must be exceptionally large for North Carolina waters. It must also weigh within a reasonable range of the world record for consideration.

Despite the similar names, this fish is not related to the dolphin, a marine mammal. It more heavily resembles a mahi-mahi, but do not grow as long due to a smaller forehead.