A 32-year-old man died Thursday off North Carolina’s Outer Banks while trying to save a 12-year-old boy who was drifting out to sea, according to TV station WSET.
Kenny Ray Gooch, 32, jumped into the ocean near Southern Shores after hearing his girlfriend’s three sons - ages 19, 14 and 12 - yelling for help, reported the Outer Banks Voice.
The youths had been swimming near a pier shortly after 8 p.m. when they got trapped in swift current, reported TV station WTKR. Within seconds, the boys were pulled 75 yards out, the station reported.
The youngest boy continued drifting even farther out, prompting Gooch and two bystanders to race in and try to help, reported the Outer Banks Voice.
The two bystanders reached the 12-year-old boy, but Gooch got caught in the swift current and vanished, reported the Virginian-Pilot. The two older boys got back to shore without assistance, reported WTKR.
Gooch’s body was found by a rescue team and attempts failed to revive him, reported WAVY. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the station reported.
He lived in the Powells Point community of Currituck County, the Outer Banks Voice reported.
It marks the eighth drowning this year on the North Carolina coast, reported the Virginian-Pilot. In the most unusual of the cases, a 4-year-old boy was struck by a “rogue wave” in April, as he was walking on a beach at Kitty Hawk.
The wave pulled the boy out to sea and his body was found 5 days later, 34 miles north of where he vanished.
The deaths come at a time when the National Park Service and beach communities have stepped up efforts to warn vacationers about rip currents, including social media posts, texts messages and electronic road signs along the Outer Banks.
Rip currents have the ability to pull swimmers quickly out to sea and are blamed for most of the deaths that occur in North Carolina coastal waters.