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S.C. riptides lead to holiday drownings of 2 N.C. men

MYRTLE BEACH Two North Carolina men died July Fourth while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean along the Grand Strand, and authorities said nearly 100 other people were rescued from the ocean.

Three other people had drowned last week in North Carolina, and authorities blamed rip currents for their deaths.

North Myrtle Beach, S.C., officials reported that 98 rescues were made Thursday after people got caught up in strong rip currents, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. Officials said Friday that the high risk of rip currents continues for beaches in Horry, S.C., and Brunswick, counties.

Mark Baucom, 50, of Polkton, about 45 miles east of Charlotte, died from asphyxiation due to drowning at 8:10 p.m. Thursday while being treated at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, said Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard.

Baucom was pulled from the ocean at 15th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach.

North Myrtle Beach police were told that Baucom and a female friend were swimming in the area of 14th Avenue South when she came out of the ocean and said she was unable to find him, said Pat Dowling, city spokesman. At 7:29 p.m. Thursday, North Myrtle Beach dispatchers were called by a man to report he thought he saw a body floating face down in the ocean near 16th Avenue South.

Earlier in the day, Richard Butler, 57, of Laurinburg, about 90 miles east of Charlotte, was pronounced dead at 2:20 p.m. while being treated at Grand Strand, Willard said. Butler had been swimming in the ocean at 72nd Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.

The cause of Butler’s death has not been determined because of his extensive medical condition, Willard said.

When Myrtle Beach police arrived at the scene, they found EMS and lifeguards performing CPR on Butler before he was taken to the hospital, according to a police report.

In North Carolina last Wednesday, a North Carolina judge and a Waxhaw woman he tried to rescue drowned off Sunset Beach.

Chief District Court Judge Mitchell McLean, 54, died while trying to help a husband and wife struggling in the water. McLean was the chief judge for Wilkes, Ashe, Alleghany and Yadkin counties.

Mary Anne Galway, 55, of Waxhaw, whom McLean was trying to rescue, also died. Her husband, Edward John Galway III, 59, was treated at a hospital and released.

At Ocean Isle Beach, authorities said William Nicolaro, 72, of Palm Harbor, Fla., drowned last week. The Associated Press contributed

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