A 4-year-old boy was swept out to sea while he was walking with his mother on a North Carolina beach, and now the U.S. Coast Guard has suspended a search for the boy’s body amid rough weather conditions.
The boy, who has not been named, was walking with his mother this week on a beach in Kitty Hawk when a large wave knocked the boy into the water. As The Associated Press reported, the boy’s mother was unable to save him and lost sight of him as he drifted further out to sea.
Crews launched a desperate search for the boy, but this week, the Coast Guard acknowledged that the boy was deceased and transitioned from rescue to recovery efforts. The search had to be suspended late in the week amid rough conditions, reports noted.
The boy’s death was a freak accident, the Kitty Hawk police department noted in a message on Facebook, saying that the mother had kept a close watch over the 4-year-old and was with him when the rogue wave hit.
Local residents said the beach was known for its treacherous conditions. One surfer told 13News that the current near the beach was especially fierce, saying that the boy did not stand a chance alone once he had been swept into the water. Others said that the coastline near where the boy was swept in can be deceiving and that waves are much larger and more powerful than people would realize.
The boy and his family were vacationing in North Carolina from New Hampshire. The toddler was the only child of the couple.
This is not the first story of a toddler tragically swept out to sea to garner headlines. In Oregon last year, a father and his 3-year-old son were swept out to sea by what is known to locals as a “sneaker wave,” an unusually large and deep wave that can engulf the entire beach. As NBC Los Angeles noted, these waves are caused by storms deep at sea which can send powerful surges toward the beach, where they combine with other waves to gain more power.
Recovery efforts for the 4-year-old boy swept out to sea in North Carolina are expected to continue through the weekend.