Myrtle Beach police urge preparedness after 19 kids went missing from beach on Memorial Day

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach Police Department (MBPD) urges parents to come to the beach with a safety plan after 19 children went missing on the beach on Memorial Day.

All 19 kids were reunited with their families, but Master Cpl. Tom Vest said situations like this could be prevented.

“It’s generally the younger children who just can’t find their way back to the tent or to the blanket,” Vest said.

If a child is reported missing on the beach, Vest said it takes a team effort — from the lifeguards to Myrtle Beach Fire Ocean Rescue (MBFOR). Lifeguards and Beach Patrol are usually the first to respond, but if that doesn’t help MBPD and MBFOR pitch in.

“Have a plan before you get down here,” Vest said. He also mentioned creating a designated meeting location, like the Sky Wheel or the flag poles — something that stands out.

“Designate a ‘water watcher’,” said Brian Mitchell, Battalion Chief of Myrtle Beach Fire Ocean Rescue. “So, if there’s any time children are in the water make sure someone out of your group — it’s their only job is to watch those children.”

It’s a job Jerome Johnson takes very seriously for his three-year-old daughter. “After talking with her and working with her on those things before we come in public it really helps,” Johnson said.

He told News13 it’s routine for him to take a family picture before going to the beach, just as a safety precaution.

“I don’t have to plan to do it,” Johnson said. “But it is something definitely I would encourage other people to do.”

Officials note that it’s important not to wait — if your child goes missing talk to the lifeguards and call MBPD.

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