Atlantic Beach's rough surf a reminder of rip current dangers

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Lifeguard stands in Atlantic Beach are boarded up, even as folks are beginning to flock to the coast to enjoy the surf and sand. Red flags are greeting beachgoers. The rough surf and strong rip currents are being blamed for several deaths.

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"This is probably the most incidents we've had before the season actually opened up," said Atlantic Beach Police Chief Jeff Harvey.

RELATED: Woman mourns loss of 5-year-old son, boyfriend who got caught in Atlantic Beach rip current

The town won't have lifeguards stationed until the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. Until then, Police and Fire are fanning out and making sure people stay safe.

"We don't want to have to go in the water if we don't have to, so we tell them be smarter. If there's waves, you got to be careful. It's the ocean, not a swimming pool," said Harvey.

There have already been six drownings this year.

On Tuesday, a 24-year-old Johnston County man and a 5-year-old child got swept away in Atlantic Beach. They were pulled to shore and rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.

Two Wake Forest teens also lost their lives in Emerald Isle during Spring Break.

One beachgoers said she is using more caution and recently fought the strength of a strong undertow.

"You could feel the current like, dragging you in," said Jessica Castle. "It's pretty scary and it's pretty sad because it just happened to a child and a father."

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