The Beaufort County Coroner’s Office has confirmed that missing Ohio teen Franklin “Eric” Clark, who was found dead in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Fripp Island, died from accidental drowning. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the 16-year-old boy, who would have been a junior at Thomas Worthington High School, had traveled with his basketball team to South Carolina for training camp.
Just before 2:30 p.m., Eric and his teammates went for a swim in an area of the ocean that was about eight feet deep. The Sheriff’s Office said that Eric was reported missing shortly after vanishing when he was swept away by an undertow.
After a two-day search, the body of the missing Thomas Worthington High School student was found Monday afternoon off the coast of Fripp Island. His remains were transported to the Medical University of South Carolina for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Witnesses say the teen more than likely drowned.
Kate Hines, the general manager with the Fripp Island Property Owners Association, stated that Eric’s basketball coach noticed that the teens were struggling in the water and rushed to their aid. He was able to pull several boys to safety, but the coach was unable to save Eric.
Hines went on to say that the sea was rough that day and it was extremely windy, adding that the beaches at Fripp Island are known to be safe.
Many property owners on the beach offered their homes to Eric’s family, who traveled to Fripp Island after learning he had been swept away in an undertow while swimming at the beach at Fripp Island.
Jennifer Nadalin Flanagan created a GoFundMe page on behalf of Eric’s family. The donations will help the victim’s family with funeral expenses.
On Tuesday night, about 1,000 people in the community attended Eric’s emotional vigil, which was held in the cafeteria at the Thomas Worthington High School, to honor the teen and say their goodbyes.
Eric’s older sister, Cambria Clark, stated that it was nice of the community to come together to support the family. She went on to say that she feels blessed to have been able to call Eric her brother.
[Featured Image by Jennifer Nadalin Flanagan/GoFundMe]