OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WATE) — A 67-year-old Knoxville woman has died after getting caught in a rip current while swimming at a North Carolina beach, according to the Town of Oak Island.
Oak Island communications manager Michael Emory said the woman, identified as Toni Watts, 67, of Knoxville, drowned Tuesday evening. She was found face-down in the water and beachgoers helped to bring her ashore and initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR before first responders arrived. All efforts were unsuccessful.
The community’s water rescue squad said Watts is the third drowning due to rip currents, and people at the beach put their own lives at risk by swimming out to bring her to shore.
According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, which is a nonprofit of beach lifeguards and open water rescuers, an annual poll of its chapters shows that based on data over the past 10 years on USLA-protected beaches, the chance of a person fatally drowning is 1 in 18 million.
It was unclear which beach near Oak Island Watts had been to at the time of the incident or if there were lifeguards stationed nearby.
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The Town of Oak Island posts its beach and water access information on its website. The town is situated on the southern end of the North Carolina coastline, and has nearly 10 miles of beachfront along the 12-mile-long Oak Island, from which the town gets its name.