A North Carolina man is being hailed a hero after he pulled two children from a rip current in the Outer Banks on Friday.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore said in a news release that Dare County resident Jeffrey Del Monte was driving in an off-road vehicle with his wife and friend late Friday afternoon along the beach near Ramp 49 in Friso when they heard the “screams of children” in addition to “panic on the beach.”
“As they surveyed the water trying to locate the screams, two young girls were spotted apparently struggling while being swept out in a rip current,” park officials said.
Del Monte then swam out into the ocean and helped one of the girls caught in the rip current as one of his friends helped her make a “lengthy swim” back to shore.
He then went back searching for the second girl and found her “in distress” before bringing her to the beach from nearly 100 yards out.
“Jeffrey Del Monte’s heroic, selfless, and prompt actions were critical to saving these two girls from a very dangerous situation,” National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac said in a statement. “I am thankful for his courage and expertise which allowed him to perform this successful ocean rescue.”
After both girls were safely on the beach, Del Monte and his friend tended to them until Dare County Emergency Medical Services and a Cape Hatteras National Seashore Ranger arrived.
Park officials stressed how quickly ocean conditions can change, even on a perfect day. “A perfect day on the beach doesn’t always mean that it’s a perfect day in the ocean, so it is critically important that all visitors check the beach forecast for hazards and rip currents before heading to the beach and always use something that floats when in the water,” the seashore said in a news release.
Officials also said that if anyone finds themselves caught in rip currents, then they shouldn’t swim against the current, but swim out of the current and then to shore.
From Monday, The Outer Banks of North Carolina are under a tropical storm warning due to Tropical Storm Arthur, which is bringing gusty winds and rain to the region. “The full center of the storm is going to remain offshore but we’re still going to get indirect impacts,” Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean said Monday on “Fox & Friends First.” “The rain and the wind, as it continues to move north and eastward.”
“These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has urged residents along the coast to pay close attention to the storm and “don’t take chances in dangerous surf.”
Park officials also stressed the enhanced risk for life-threatening rip currents for the region early next week. “Beach visitors should use extreme caution in and near the ocean and stay out of the water while rip current risks are elevated,” the seashore said in a statement.