North Carolina

His granddaughter was swept out to sea. NC man died trying to save her

His 7-year-old granddaughter was in the ocean at Carolina Beach, North Carolina, with her father when a rip current swept the two away from the beach. Donald Michael Boles, 60, and others on the beach swam to the girl to rescue her, but they also got separated in the strong current. The girl and her father survived, but Boles and another man died trying to save them, The News and Observer reported in October 2017.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission this week named Boles one of its 18 Carnegie heroes for acts of extraordinary heroism. One other North Carolina man, Jay Ross Muxworthy, was also awarded for his efforts to save a child from a burning car in Wilmington.

“The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others,” according to the commission, which has awarded more than 10,000 medals and financial grants to heroes since the fund began in 1904.

Zoe Crumb, 7, and her father, Zachary Crumb, 29, were in the ocean Oct. 7, 2017, when a rip current pulled them out to sea, according to the Carnegie fund. A number of bystanders tried to help the swimmers, including Boles, who is Zachary Crumb’s father-in-law, The News and Observer reported. Boles and 53-year-old James Barbour, of Clayton, died while trying to save the girl and her father, the newspaper reports.

“Boles grasped his granddaughter and attempted to return her to shore, but they became separated, and the current carried Boles to a point about 500 feet from the beach. Rescue personnel removed Crumb and Zoe from the water, and others took Boles, who was floating unconscious in the water, aboard a boat; he could not be revived,” the award letter reads. Zoe and her father did survive, the award notes.

A second award went to Joshua Stewart Wright and Jay Ross Muxworthy for their efforts to save two children from a burning car in Wilmington in 2016, according to the fund. Wright and Muxworthy tried to rescue 2-year-old Jacquelyn and 13-month-old James after a crash. The 2-year-old only had minor injuries, according to the award.

Muxworthy, who owns the Flaming Amy’s restaurants in Wilmington, pulled the unconscious driver from the vehicle and tried to rescue the baby, the Wilmington Star News reports.

The fund described what happened: “Unable to open the car’s doors, Wright climbed through an opening at the rear windshield, advanced to the middle of the SUV, and grasped Jacquelyn, passing her outside to a bystander. As conditions worsened inside, he exited.

“Multiple people helped pry open the rear, driver’s-side door, and as flames spread toward James’ safety seat, Muxworthy entered the SUV to his waist and attempted to free James amid blistering heat. Overcome by the conditions, he was forced to withdraw. Flames rapidly engulfed the vehicle, and James did not survive.”

Investigators determined the baby had died in the crash, not the fire, according to the Star News.

“Jacquelyn was hospitalized for minor injuries, but she was not burned. Wright, who is from Georgia, declined medical attention at the scene, and Muxworthy was hospitalized for nine days for treatment of his burns. He underwent additional treatment for several months following the accident,” according to the commission.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.