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An attempted rescue may have led to drowning of man and boy off North Carolina beach

A man and boy pulled Tuesday from the waters surrounding Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach have both died at, Atlantic Beach officials said in a release.

The man may have drowned while trying to save the boy, who was swimming near Money Island Drive and got pulled by swift current to the area around the pier, according to WCTI. The Oceanana Pier is about 500 yards east of Money Island Drive.

On Wednesday afternoon, town officials issued a press release saying the 24-year-old man and 5-year-old the boy were found floating face down in the water.

“Both victims were unresponsive and not breathing,” officials said. “Both patients were transported to Carteret Health Care, where ongoing resuscitation efforts continued.”

Their deaths bring the death toll off North Carolina’s beaches to six people in four weeks, including a 28-year-old Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune and two Wake Forest High School students.

Identities of the man and boy have not been released by the town.

TV station WRAL identified the adult as Austin “Catfish” Potter, and reported that he jumped into the ocean to rescue one of his girlfriend’s sons, who was being pulled away by the current. The boy was named Liam and he “loved cars, dinosaurs, and the ocean,” according to WFMY.

Erin Peoples posted a note on Facebook on Wednesday, saying Potter was not the biological father of her two sons, but treated them as if they were his own. “I’m completely stunned. Have absolutely no words to express the way that I feel,” she wrote. “I love you both more than I can say.”

Atlantic Beach Fire Chief Mike Simpson told the Carteret News-Times the two may have gotten caught in a deadly rip current: “The tide was a little higher (than normal) and the wind had increased, so there was some increased wave action.”

Emergency responders say they found the two near the 700 block of East Fort Macon at about 1:45 p.m., reported WNCT. The two were taken to Carteret Health Care, said the station.

A witness told the Eastern Beacon that one of the medics was seen trying to resuscitate the man with CPR after he was pulled from the water. It was not reported if the man ever regained consciousness.

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