Manchester boy, 4, swept into ocean in North CarolinaBy MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
April 26. 2018 1:21PM
KITTY HAWK, N.C. — A 4-year-old Manchester boy was lost to the Atlantic Ocean when a rogue wave swept him and his mother into the surf as they were walking along the beach Wednesday afternoon, Kitty Hawk police said.
Another wave separated them, and the mom lost sight of the boy, said Kitty Hawk Police Chief Joel Johnson.
The boy was the only child of the family, Johnson said. He and his mother were alone, walking in shallow waters when the wave knocked them down.
Early Thursday afternoon, Johnson said he was respecting the wishes of the family and withholding their names.
He said the surf was very rough Wednesday afternoon, with waves 4 to 6 feet high. The U.S. Coast Guard said the tragedy occurred about 4 p.m.
“As parents, this is our worst nightmare, even for those of us who love and have grown up by the ocean,” Johnson said.
The incident prompted a massive search effort involving the U.S. Coast Guard, Kitty Hawk Fire Department and other rescue organizations. They combed 130 miles of beach for hours but called off the search at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard said.
About 11 a.m. Thursday, Johnson announced that a search operation, when someone missing is presumed alive, had transitioned to a recovery operation.
“Suspending a search for anyone, let alone a young child, is the most difficult thing a commanding officer in the Coast Guard is called upon to do,” said Coast Guard Capt. Bion Stewart, commander, Sector North Carolina. “I can’t imagine what the family of this little boy is going through right now.”
The Coast Guard search involved an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew based at Air Station Elizabeth City and a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Oregon Inlet.
In a post Thursday afternoon on the Kitty Hawk Police Department Facebook page, Chief Johnson said: “We are continuing to receive a large number of offers from all over to help in our search efforts ... If you or a group would like to search you are more than welcome. We only ask that you call 911 immediately if you find anything and refrain from any other communication. We would like to notify the family first due to the sensitive nature of this incident.”