An exchange student from Thailand drowned at Frisco Beach on Cape Hatteras on Tuesday after he disappeared while boogie boarding.
Sirawich “Jo” Chanthaburanan of Muang, Thailand, was visiting the Outer Banks with two other exchange students from central Pennsylvania. According to the Coast Guard, Chanthaburanan, 17, was seen falling off a boogie board and not resurfacing at about 1:30 p.m. He was not wearing a floatation device.
The Coast Guard searched for Chanthaburanan with boats and a helicopter Tuesday. His body was recovered Wednesday morning.
Chanthaburanan was a junior at State College Area High School. According to Carl Hill, coordinator for local Rotary International Youth Exchange students, Chanthaburanan and another student from Belgium had flown to the Outer Banks with the family of another boy in the exchange program who was staying with a family in Bedford, Pa.
“They went down Friday and were due to come back today,” Hill said.
Hill said Chantaburanan went out into the water on his boogie board to urge one of the other boys to come back in toward shore. The other boy came back safely. Chanthaburanan disappeared with the riptide, he said.
“Last night we were about 99 percent sure that he was gone,” Hill said. “It was horrible, but somehow I’m relieved to know he’s been found.”
Jeanne Knouse, director of student services at State College Area High, said Chanthaburanan’s family in Thailand and his host families in State College had been told of his death.
“There is no way to prepare for such a tragedy, and saying goodbye to a child, a student, a friend and/or a classmate is a very sad and hard thing to do,” Knouse said in a statement. “As a district, we express our deepest condolences to Jo’s family in Thailand and his host families. We will continue to provide counseling at the high school and support to anyone who having difficulty coping with this tragedy.”