Oklahoma man drowns at North Carolina beach

Tuesday, August 10th 2004, 9:00 am
By: News On 6

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (AP) _ A 19-year-old Oklahoma man who was vacationing with his family drowned near a fishing pier Monday at Wrightsville Beach.

After a frantic, half-hour search by lifeguards and beachgoers, the body of Ben Ea was spotted floating under Johnnie Mercer's Fishing Pier. About a dozen bystanders swam to the victim, who was about 30 feet from shore.

A dozen lifeguards, who were called at 4:23 p.m., had been looking for the body south of the pier in the direction of the current, said Sterling Powell, an emergency medical technician with the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department.

Ea was pronounced dead at Cape Fear Hospital.

A yellow flag flew on a lifeguard stand near the pier, meaning the water could produce dangerous conditions and swimmers should exercise caution. Powell said he didn't believe ocean conditions played a significant part in Ea's death, although he didn't know what caused him to go under.

It was the first drowning of the summer at Wrightsville Beach, but the second in the area so far.