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Marine pulled from ocean Saturday is fourth death in two weeks off NC beaches

Emerald Isle Police have not said yet whether Marine Justin A. Hinds was caught in a rip current before drowning.
Emerald Isle Police have not said yet whether Marine Justin A. Hinds was caught in a rip current before drowning. Emerald Isle Police Department photo

A U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville drowned Saturday afternoon off Emerald Isle, the fourth death reported in two weeks off North Carolina’s popular beaches.

He was identified as Justin A. Hinds, 28, of Avondale, Arizona, according to an Emerald Isle Police Department press release.

Hinds’ death follows reports of a Chapel Hill man found dead April 25 in the surf near the boardwalk at Carolina Beach, and the deaths of two Wake Forest High School students caught in a rip current April 22 off Emerald Isle, reported the Charlotte Observer last week. In the case of the man from Chapel Hill, officials have not released a cause of death.

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water. Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues, and can be dangerous or deadly if you don't know what to do. This video shows you how to break the grip of the rip.

Hinds was a lance corporal serving as an “administrative specialist” with Camp Lejeune’s Headquarters Support Battalion, and his service included being deployed to Afghanistan as a combat engineer, reported the Marine Corps Times. His list of awards included the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, said the Times.

The drowning occurred about 4:23 p.m. Saturday off the 9100 block of Emerald Isle Beach strand, according to a police press release.

“When emergency responders arrived on scene, the swimmer ... had already been pulled from the water by friends who were at the beach with him,” said the release.

“Life saving efforts initiated by Emerald Isle EMS and fire department personnel,” the post continued, “and Mr. Hinds was transported to Carteret Health Care where he was pronounced dead by hospital staff.”

Police said yellow flags were displayed on the beach Saturday afternoon, indicating a moderate risk of strong currents, said the release.

Investigators have not said if Hinds had been caught in a rip current, which are often blamed for drownings off North Carolina’s beaches. The strong currents are known to drag people out to see at speeds of “1 to 2 feet per second,” according to NOAA.gov.

“However, some rip currents have been measured at 8 feet per second — faster than any Olympic swimmer ever recorded,” says NOAA. “...A person caught in a rip can be swept away from shore very quickly.”

A baby gray whale and her calf were captured swimming in front of Dana Point Harbor in Orange County on Friday, Jan. 11. Capt. Frank Brennan, who works for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, took the video.

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