Visitor from Ohio dies in waters off Hatteras 

By on September 5, 2023

Second death on National Seashore in two days

On Sept. 5. for the second time in two days, the National Park Service (NPS) has reported the death of a visitor in the waters off the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. One day earlier, a 28-year-old visitor for Washington D.C. could not be revived after being pulled from the water off Avon.

This NPS report includes a statement by David Hallac, Superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina, strongly cautioning about the dangers of the entering the ocean with “high energy surf conditions,” and advising swimmers to consider sound sites for their water activities.

With the U.S. Coast Guard announcing on Sept. 3 that it had suspended its search for missing KDH man Scott Johnson, who was reportedly taking out his boat to troubleshoot a maintenance issue, it has been a difficult few days on the Outer Banks.

Here is the report on the Sept. 5 death.

A 68-year-old man from Hillsboro, Ohio died this morning in a water-related incident off southern Hatteras Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore).

Additional details:
  • At approximately 10:30 a.m. Sept. 5, a 911 call was placed to report an unresponsive visitor in the ocean off southern Hatteras Island, near off-road vehicle ramp 55.
  • Two bystanders shared that the victim was swimming in the ocean when he shouted for help. The bystanders saw the 68-year-old man starting to go under water, when they swam out and pulled him to shore.
  • Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Dare County Emergency Medical Services, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad and North Carolina Highway Patrol responded to the incident.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.
  • A beach hazards statement is in effect through this evening at Hatteras Island beaches for dangerous rip currents and large breaking waves in the surf zone.

Statement by David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina:

The Seashore sends condolences to the families and friends of the swimmers that lost their lives over the last two days.

High energy surf conditions, including large waves and life-threatening rip currents, are forecast to be present all week. Visitors wading into the surf, even as shallow as waist deep, may be overcome by large waves, suffer injuries, and may be overtaken by rough ocean conditions making it difficult, if not impossible, for all but the strongest, most experienced swimmers to survive.

We urge visitors to avoid entering the ocean when the rip current risk is moderate or high and when the waves are more than 1-2 feet in height. Moreover, even in the calmest conditions, swimming off the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is much more difficult than swimming in a pool or lake and only the most experienced should consider entering the water. All swimmers should have leashed floatation with them (body board or surfboard) and a friend or family member on the beach to watch them at all times.

While you may see surfers seemingly effortlessly riding the waves, do not be tempted to enter the ocean during these hazardous conditions. The majority of surfers at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are competent athletes that have developed significant skills and experience or time to engage in their sport. Consider spending time on a sound-side beach at the Seashore, including locations such as the Haulover, Salvo, and Devil Shoals Road sound access sites for a safer opportunity to enjoy the water when hazardous ocean conditions are present.

Learn more about ocean and beach safety at


  • Travis

    Visitors and locals treat the red warning flags as suggestions.
    They are no more suggestions than a red warning light at a railroad crossing is a suggestion.
    Maybe you get lucky and make it across the tracks a few times. Then you push your luck and that train smokes you.
    Perhaps it would create some perspective for overconfident swimmers to know that a 4 foot wave, 25 feet long weighs about 210 tons. Same as your average locomotive.

    Tuesday, Sep 5 @ 8:28 pm
  • Glenn

    No words, simply no words that another visitor has drowned off our shores. May God rest his soul. Prayers for the surviving family members and friends.

    Tuesday, Sep 5 @ 8:45 pm
  • Steven

    Rest his soul..

    Sure wish the Tourism Board would campaign that the ocean here is not for swimming, regardless of flags.
    Proven each year by multiple lives lost

    Wednesday, Sep 6 @ 9:43 am
  • surf123

    Losing a life is terrible but at least they were enjoying the ocean and not having driven hundreds of miles to swim in a pool or just sit on the beach. Water is dangerous and the ocean if there is any significant about of wave action is deadly. It is worth noting that the shore break over the last two weeks depending on where you are at was treacherous. @Travis…you can use all kinds of fancy numbers and comparisons, but it does not matter to people who work 51 weeks for a single week off only to be told do not get in the water. @Steven…no chance the tourism board will have any type of campaign telling people the ocean is a look but do not touch object.

    Wednesday, Sep 6 @ 12:25 pm
  • Charles

    Keep in mind there are no “flags” on Hatteras.

    When you are here for a week, you have no idea.

    And I am past the point of saying anything as all you get back out there is rude comments.

    Thursday, Sep 7 @ 11:45 am