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Rip current may have killed Pennsylvania tourist found floating off NC's Outer Banks

Did a rip current kill the Pennsylvania tourist on Sunday? The Cape Hatteras National Seashore posts daily updates on rip current conditions, due to the safety hazards.
Did a rip current kill the Pennsylvania tourist on Sunday? The Cape Hatteras National Seashore posts daily updates on rip current conditions, due to the safety hazards.

A 79-year-old tourist died over the weekend while swimming off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore, reports the National Park Service.

An exact cause of death was not reported, but park officials say deadly rip currents were an issue at the time. The name of the tourist has not yet been released.

Park officials say the tourist was first spotted shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday "floating in the ocean" at the north end of Buxton. The man was not wearing a floatation device, park officials said in a Facebook post.

"A bystander brought the male to shore and began resuscitation measures," said a statement issued by the park service. "However, the efforts to revive the man were unsuccessful."

Dare County Emergency Medical Services, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad and Seashore Rangers also tried and failed to revive the man, officials said.

"Although rip currents were forecast for the area and the individual was found in the water, the cause of death is unknown at this time," said a statement from the park service.

The U.S. Lifesaving Association defines rip currents as "powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore." Swimmers caught in the currents can easily drown while trying to fight their way back to shore, experts say.

This is the first swimming-related fatality off the Cape Hatteras National Seashore this year.

Seven swimmers died off the park's beaches in 2017 and eight died in 2016, officials said.

In April, a 4-year-old boy drowned off Kitty Hawk after being dragged off the beach by "a rogue wave," while walking with his mother. His body was a found five days later, 34 miles away in Currituck County.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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