Busy season for lifeguards along the strand in Myrtle Beach

AP News
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Posted: Aug 01, 2016 11:09 AM

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — It's been a busy summer for ocean rescues in the Myrtle Beach area, apparently because the hot weather is bringing more swimmers to the beach in a season plagued by rip currents.

Local media outlets report at least three ocean drownings near Myrtle Beach this summer while two more swimmers are missing. A third went missing farther south off Georgetown County.

A 14-year-old boy from Columbus, Georgia, went missing June 16 after his brother was pulled from the surf. Then on July 6, a 12-year-old boy went missing while swimming with his brother and sister. The brother and sister were rescued, although the 17-year-old brother died a few days later at a hospital.

In Georgetown Country, a third youth, a 16-year-old boy, went missing while swimming at Pawleys Island in July.

"I've seen other summers where we've had some issues, but we're seeing more and more people on the Strand and more people are staying in the water longer," Duke Brown, beach safety director with Horry County Beach Patrol told The Sun News (http://bit.ly/2aIVp4m ).

There seem to have been more rip currents this summer.

On July 21 alone, rip currents resulted in 56 water rescues in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina, said Sandy LaCorte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"Great weather, I'm sure, increased visitors at the beach and just an abundance of wave energy created the perfect storm," LaCorte said.

Paul Gayes of Coastal Carolina University said the rip currents may have to do with storms last fall building offshore sandbars. When water punches through the bars, it creates rip currents which pull swimmers out to sea.

Sgt. Philip Cain of Myrtle Beach Beach Patrol sad there have been more longshore currents as well this summer - currents running parallel to the beach which can pull swimmers down the shoreline.

"If you're a non-swimmer, we don't recommend that you go in the ocean," Cain said. "If you do go in, we recommend that you only stay where you can see the bottom."

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