NOAA official drowns in Outer Banks


OUTER BANKS, NC (WBTW) – An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has drowned in the Outer Banks.

Emergency crews were called to the Pelican Way beach access in Duck, North Carolina around 4:22 p.m. on Monday for swimming no longer visible from the beach, according to the Town of Duck.

“An ocean rescue supervisor who was off duty but in the area saw what he thought to be a swimmer in distress and alerted emergency services. Lifeguards on patrol responded within minutes upon receiving the call and pulled an unresponsive 58-year-old male from the water,” the town said.

Duck Surf Rescue, Duck Fire, and Police, and Dare County EMS started CPR and “other live-saving measures immediately,” the town also said. “Despite these efforts,” the man died around 5 p.m.

The man who died was identified as Dr. William Lapenta.

Dr. William Lapenta (credit: Louis Uccellini Twitter)

Lapenta was the director of NOAA‘s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, according to the National Weather Service’s website. His wife, Cathy, is also meteorologist, and they have two adult children.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the loss of my friend and colleague, Bill Lapenta. Bill was a brilliant scientist and mentor to many. He will be missed by all of us in the @NWS and @NOAA,” Louis Uccellini, the National Weather Service Director, said in a tweet Tuesday.

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