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Wrightsville Beach lifeguards step down from stands

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Starting Thursday, you will no longer see lifeguards on the stand. The lifeguard season has come to an end, and this year definitely wasn’t a breeze.

“It was a pretty intense year, it was very busy at the beginning, nothing going on during the middle, and then really busy at the end,” described Wrightsville Beach lifeguard Mike Woody.

Wrightsville Beach had about 275 rescues this year. They had one fatality. It happened last Friday, but lifeguards were technically off duty because of a storm. Carolina Beach had around 200 rescues and three fatalities; two when lifeguards were off duty. Kure Beach documented about 150 rescues and one fatality.

Rescue records from all three beaches were way up from last year. Ocean Rescue attributes it to exceptionally hazardous surf conditions. Dave Baker from Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue said, “The conditions were such that we had red flag days, where we had strong and numerous rip currents, one day we actually had 65 rescues, with one rip current pulling out 22 people.”

Lifeguard Mike Woody saved 45 people this year, all of whom were pulled out by rip currents. “Everybody wants to come out and enjoy the weather, and just get in trouble,” he said.

Just because lifeguards are coming off the stands does not mean they are going to stop patrolling. Through October 15th, at least five lifeguards will be patrolling up and down the beach in pick-up trucks and on 4-wheelers.

“After that day, we will go down to a smaller crew, approximately three people with an ATV and two trucks roving to assist the public,” added Baker.

At the end of October, patrolling on Wrightsville Beach will come to a halt for the year. Carolina and Kure Beach lifeguards have been off the stands since Labor Day.

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Lifeguards typically patrol our area beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day because that is the busiest time of year. Wrightsville Beach lifeguards stayed a little longer this year, but Wednesday they are stepping down from the stands.

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