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Two men drown in ocean off Emerald Isle Sunday

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EMERALD ISLE — Despite efforts by surfers and emergency medical service personnel, two men drowned Sunday afternoon in the ocean off Coast Guard Road.

In a press release, Town Manager Matt Zapp said the victims were James Howard Burton, 72, of Cornelius, and John C. Emerline, 73, of Raleigh.

Mr. Zapp said reports indicate Mr. Burton was in the ocean and appeared to be in trouble. Mr. Emerline entered the water and attempted to save him. The men were related by marriage.

The manager said a call came in to 911 at approximately 4:17 p.m. that two swimmers were in distress in the area of 9901 Coast Guard Road near Ship Wreck Lane.

“Four surfers and a town of Emerald Isle lifeguard entered the water, attempting to rescue two men,” Mr. Zapp wrote in the release. “Once on shore, lifesaving efforts were initiated by the surfers and lifeguard until emergency medical services arrived.

“Despite the efforts of the volunteers and first responders, both men succumbed to their injuries.”

“A loss of this magnitude is simply heartbreaking,” Mr. Zapp said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burton and Emerline families during this tragic time.”

There was a moderate risk of rip currents in the ocean off Emerald Isle at the time, according to the National Weather Service.


(Previous report)

EMERALD ISLE - Officials say two men drowned Sunday in Emerald Isle.

The victims, James Burton, 72, of Cornelius, and John Emerline, 73, of Raleigh, were pulled to the shore by surfers and a lifeguard but emergency lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful.

Town Manager Matt Zapp says emergency services were called at about 4 p.m. to a beach strand near Coast Guard Road and Ship Wreck Lane.

Zapp said it appears Burton was swimming and appeared to be in trouble when Emerline went in to try and help him.

The rip current risk in Emerald Isle on Sunday was moderate.

(1) comment

Rusty Scupper

Hats off to our area surfers, life guards and first responders. Sadly, their efforts did not change the situation, but they always try to save those most in need.

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