Morehead City, N.C.

May 16, 2019


On Mother’s Day, at the Longhorn Steakhouse, I had the privilege of meeting a young man by the name of Austin Potter who was our server. He had a great personality and he even sat with us for a few moments.

He told us that he was born in England and hadn’t been back since, and that he held dual citizenship with the United States. Throughout the meal we exchanged quips, particularly when the power went out for a few seconds. I commented to Austin that if we needed to evacuate the building without paying our bill, that I would be sure to leave him a tip. Austin replied, he was more concerned about adding up all of his tickets by hand without the register. Fortunately, the power stayed on.

I was shocked to learn that just a few days later he drowned in the ocean at Atlantic Beach while attempting to save a 5-year-old child who also drowned. My wife and I along with our son were devastated to learn about this. John 15:13 says: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

For the longest time I have often thought no one should chance swimming in the ocean without a flotation device such as the type of flotation vest water skiers wear. The new posted warning flags are important, but may not enough. I read online that there was a yellow flag in the area where these two drowning occurred. Perhaps it’s time for the oceanfront towns to develop and begin a coordinated campaign promoting the use of flotation vests for ocean swimmers. Rip tides are so prevalent in this area that additional steps are needed. It’s all about saving lives. Families who experience drownings are forever changed. I have been changed by the loss of my new friend Austin.


(7) comments


I am so sorry to hear of another person drowning to save another. My question in this case is WHERE WERE THE CHILD'S PARENTS AND WHY DID A COMPLETE STRANGER RISK HIS LIFE TO SAVE ANOTHER???>>


No one really cares as long as tourists keep coming in. Beach nourishment is part of the problem. Lack of lifeguards is another.


Isn't the tax situation in Carteret County also organized so that the beachside towns get a higher percentage per capita? Seems like they could use that money for more lifeguards, more lifesaving devices. If they can spend millions on new fire stations, seems like they can spend millions to have more life saving options.

Core Sounder

Most of NC beaches are not safe for most tourist to enter the waters. Am surprised that there have not been a lot of lawsuits over the years due to lack of life savers and other beach patrol officers.

David Collins

Come on now! Knock off all the blame game stuff. If humans were supposed to be water creatures we would have fins and gills. We don’t so we venture forth at our own peril. Have to use some common sense here and that what is lacking. One could say, Darwin at work for all to see. No one is bullet proof so get with the program and learn water safety, plus know your limitations. Failure to do so will just result in more fatalities. Don't be one of them.


The recent drownings are tragic for the victims and devastating for the families. It seems like there have been more drownings in the past ten years than years prior, and it also seems like the beaches have been more aggressively 'renourished' in a similar timeframe. I am by no means an environmental scientist, but as an inquisitive pragmatist, I cannot help but wonder if there is a correlation between adulterating a surface originally shaped by the most powerful force on earth, the ocean, and a greater likelihood of forming riptides. This all said, I also know a great deal of money is exchanged to "renourish" the beaches. The reasoning seems to be mitigating erosion to protect ocean front homes and to propagate the tourism industry on which our county seems to survive. Pertaining to Mr. Saunder's thought to promote life preserver use at the beach, I think a public service campaign would be money well spent now that we have created beaches as hazardous as they are beautiful.

David Collins

Promoting life preserver use while nice to read is useless if the visitors do not heed the advise. Actually promoting the beautiful, unspoiled beaches is probably one of the reasons for the rash of preventable fatalities. Way too many visitors and they are arriving earlier to take advantage of the swing season. Could say they are victims of successful advertising. Probably the best way to trim the fatalities back is to ensure that the word gets out about how dangerous swimming in the ocean really is. This would not exactly please the beach rental people for it is money that is king here. Always a dark side to everything in life. Wonder if the rental agencies are going to offer drowning insurance alongside their other offerings? After all, this is a business venture. Isn’t it?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.