|Friday, May 29, 2009|
Large crowds, windy conditions and rip currents led to numerous rescues along North Carolina beaches over the holiday weekend. The park had one probable drowning and two near drownings during the period. The first incident occurred on Sunday. Jack Sawicki, 55, was standing on a sandbar with a female friend about 150 feet off South Core Banks when other visitors noticed that they were having difficulties. One of them, Micah Gunn, got his surfboard, paddled out to the sandbar, got the woman, and brought her to shore. When he returned to get Sawicki, he was between the sandbar and the beach. He was able to give his name to Gunn, then become unresponsive. Gunn got Sawicki onto his surfboard with some difficulty, then headed toward shore. Gunn noted that Sawicki quickly turned blue while en route. CPR was begun by park visitors on the beach and continued by responding rangers. An AED was also utilized. Ranger Conan Pelc transported EMS personnel to the island, and ranger Patrick Reidy brought out responding Coast Guard personnel. Sawicki was brought to shore, then transferred to an ambulance. He was pronounced dead while en route to the hospital. On Monday, two women, ages 18 and 23, were caught in a rip current in the ocean off South Core Banks. They made it back to shore with difficulty, with visitors helping them get to the beach. Responding rangers found that the women had ingested a lot of water. EMS personnel responded to park headquarters and were transported to South Core Banks in two boats. Both women were taken to the hospital, where the 18-year-old was checked and released and the 23-year-old was held overnight for observation. Both are doing well.