ATLANTIC BEACH — One person remains hospitalized after emergency crews responded to multiple water rescue calls Wednesday evening near the Circle district.
Atlantic Beach Fire/EMS Chief Mike Simpson said the department received calls around 5:30 p.m. about multiple people in distress in the ocean. He said the situation arose when a pair of siblings, a male around 5 to 6 years and a female around 13 years old, became caught in a rip current.
Chief Simpson said their father was able to pull the male in to shore, but not the female. At that time, bystanders from the beach attempted to retrieve the female swimmer, but multiple people also became caught in the current. Chief Simpson did not release the names of those involved.
When they arrived on the scene, emergency crews retrieved the girl, who was unconscious when they pulled her in. Chief Simpson said crews performed CPR on the beach strand for about 1-2 minutes and the teen regained consciousness, but her breathing was still labored.
She was transported to Carteret Health Care where, as of Thursday morning, Chief Simpson said she was in critical but stable condition. The male did not require immediate medical attention, but the family transported him to the hospital, as well.
Pine Knoll Shores emergency crews were called in for assistance with potential additional water rescues, but most of the bystanders who helped were able to get back safely to shore on their own. Chief Simpson said medics checked out one person, but did not transport them for additional care.
Pine Knoll Shores crews also helped stabilize the girl and transport her from the beach to the ambulance.
Chief Simpson said red flags were flying at the time of the water rescues, indicating dangerous ocean conditions. He said yellow flags were flown earlier Wednesday, but conditions worsened throughout the day as the wind picked up and the tide came in later in the evening.
After the incident, Chief Simpson said crews briefly patrolled the beach strand to check if anyone else needed assistance and warn beachgoers of the dangerous ocean conditions.
“We’re just trying to keep everybody above the water,” he said Thursday.
Lifeguards do not begin active watches in Atlantic Beach until Memorial Day weekend, but Chief Simpson said crews try to go out every morning to check on conditions and post flags. He said they check on conditions throughout the day and update the flags as needed.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.