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A third person dies this week in the waters off NC's Outer Banks

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Two tourists drowned Wednesday in the waters off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore, bringing the death toll to three in just four days.

The Wednesday drownings both involved 55-year-old men, who were apparently not wearing life preservers, according to the National Park Service.

In the first incident, a man from Benson, N.C., died Wednesday morning in the Frisco Day Use Area, and the second involved a man from Massachusetts found that afternoon near Ramp 70 on Ocracoke Island.

On Sunday, a 79-year-old tourist from Pennsylvania died in waters at the north end of Buxton, park officials said.

The identities of the three have not been released.

The two men who died Wednesday were both discovered by bystanders and dragged to shore, where CPR failed to revive them, officials said.

In the case of the 55-year-old from Benson, a bystander spotted him in trouble on a sandbar 50 yards from shore at about 10 a.m., witnesses told park officials. Members of his family were overheard calling for help, said a press release.

A bystander jumped into the ocean to help, but the man "was swept away from the sandbar by what may have been a rip current," the park service said. The bystander was able to pull the man to shore, reported the park service.

An impromptu memorial of shells has been set up at the Lillian Street in Kitty Hawk for the 4-year-old lost in the surf on April 25, 2018. People are encouraged to write messages to the family on the shells with their thoughts and prayers.

In the second drowning, a bystander heard family members calling for help at about 4:47 p.m. and quickly located the body floating in three feet of water off Ocracoke Island. The victim was from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, park officials said.

On Sunday afternoon, a 79-year-old Pennsylvania man was found floating 30 yards from the beach at the north end of Buxton, park 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.

There were seven swimming-related fatalities in 2017 and eight in 2016 in the park, officials said.

At least one other drowning has been reported this season off the N.C. coast and outside the park. In April, a 4-year-old boy drowned off Kitty Hawk after being dragged off the beach by "a rogue wave." He was walking with his mother at the time. His body was a found five days later, 34 miles away in Currituck County.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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