A Virginia man who drowned in Emerald Isle Wednesday afternoon was trying to help a swimmer in distress, according to town manager Frank Rush.
Troy Strickland, 41, of Scottsburg, Virginia, had been visiting Emerald Isle all week and was staying at the Islander Hotel.
He got in the ocean to help a caught in a rip tide when he got caught in it himself.
“it was just crazy,” said beachgoer Fred Powell Jr. “I’ve been here fifty years and never seen anything to compare to it.”
His family called the fire department to rescue him, but the fire department was unable to do so.
Strickland was recovered from the ocean round 2:30 p.m., and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
“It traumatized a lot of people out here yesterday,” said Powell, “and my heart goes out to the family of this guy that was lost. Because he’s a hero in my mind. He was trying to be a part of the rescue.”
Emerald Isle emergency responders had twenty emergency water rescues Wednesday afternoon in the span of just a few hours
Emerald Isle Fire Chief Bill Walker said people got in the water Wednesday because it was sunny out, despite the red flags flying up and down the shoreline.
“The red flags,” said Walker, “have nothing to do with the rain or shine. It’s all dealing with the water conditions and the rip currents.”
The town warned residents and visitors that red flags remain in place, and the public should stay out of the ocean until further notice.
The flags have been up nearly all week, warning beachgoers to stay away from the water.
“If the red flags are up,” said Walker, “you need to stay out. We’re really hoping conditions change and we can take them down and everybody can enjoy the beach. But our primary mission is for everybody’s safety.”
The flags were up again Thursday, but people got in the water anyway.
“We’ve run several calls today,” said Walker, “that people, it’s just sunny and they’re going in the water. They’re not listening to the red flags. We’ve actually had them apologize to us for going in knowing they shouldn’t.”
The other people who were rescued Wednesday and Thursday survived and are doing OK.