100+ attend vigil for man and boy who died at Atlantic Beach


More than 100 people gathered Friday at sunset at Atlantic Beach to remember a man who died with a young boy earlier this week.

Austin Potter, 24, who graduated from North Johnston High School, died along with Liam Peoples on Tuesday as a rip currents hit the surf where they were swimming.

During Friday’s vigil along the beach, several people spoke about Potter and Liam Peoples.

“As y’all know Austin was a very cheerful guy — he loved life,” said one man named Bob. “He loved swimming, he loved fishing — every time you’d see him he’d have a fishing pole in his hand.”

Liam’s mom, Erin Peoples, told our sister station CBS 17 that a quick fishing trip at Oceana Pier ended with Potter and Liam deciding to go for a swim.

“There’s a sandbar out there. The water was knee high. Nothing different than anything we’ve done in the previous trips we made. Before I even knew that anything was wrong, everything was wrong,” said Peoples.

The Atlantic Beach Fire Department said the pair were pulled out by the rip current. When the two were rescued from the water, they were unresponsive and not breathing.

The pair were rushed to Carteret Health Care where resuscitation efforts continued. Hospital officials confirmed that both passed away, officials said in a release.

Now, left grieving the loss of her son and boyfriend, Peoples says it’s important to hold dear to loved ones.

“Just always, always cherish those that are close to you, that matter to you,” she said.


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