Hundreds gather at Atlantic Beach to honor Johnston County man swept away by rip current

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hundreds gathered at Atlantic Beach to honor a man swept away by the rip current this week.

Austin Potter is from Johnston County.

He died trying to save his girlfriend's son Liam.

"Not only were they my boyfriend and my son but they were my buddies. We did everything together," said Erin Peoples, Austin's girlfriend and Liam's mother. "Obviously Austin was a very important person to a lot of people. He was so friendly, he was loved and that shows with everyone coming out."

The crowd gathered at the same beach the three went to Tuesday to "make family memories."

"I'm just torn up about the loss," said Samantha Jacobus, Austin's co-worker. "My heart goes out to Erin for losing two people who are super close to her and all of their family."

Peoples said they didn't know swimming conditions were going to be as rough as they were Tuesday at Atlantic Beach. She said Potter wanted to take Liam to get his toes wet and would never put him in a bad situation.

"It seems safe and you can never be too cautious, like I've said before," said Peoples. "Even if you have an eye on him, keep extra eyes on him, keep them close."

Officers at Atlantic Beach are canvassing it three times a day to warn people about the water. There have been five drownings in just the last few weeks: three at Emerald Isle and two at Atlantic Beach.

All of this has happened before Memorial Day.

Atlantic Beach's police chief said many of the folks they've talked to admit they weren't aware of the conditions nor were they aware of the flag warning system. A yellow flag was flying on Tuesday.
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