Man who rescued Wayne County teen from drowning off NC coast speaks out

WNCT photo of Emerald Isle beach.

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a 17-year-old Wayne County boy who went missing while swimming in Emerald Isle.

Three teens were swimming near the Bogue Inlet Pier around 6 p.m. Saturday when they got caught in a rip current.

RELATED: Search suspended for Wayne Co. teen at NC coast, 2nd teen in critical condition

Local beachgoer Blair Alford was able to help the teen who was closest to shore to safety.

“I went and took a dip in the ocean and heard a couple of guys out there hollerin’,” said Alford. “I turned around, and they needed some help, so I went out there and got the guy. I pulled out closest to me and the other guys were about 50 yards behind me. He was kind of shocked, and I tried to get him to kick his feet, and he wouldn’t kick his feet, and he was just kind of in shock.”

The other two, a 16 and 17-year-old, were swept further out to see.


The 16-year-old was located and brought ashore by a surfer. He was taken to Carteret Health Care and then airlifted to Vidant Medical Center where he remains in critical condition.

The 17-year-old remains missing.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the young man,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Lance Sobel, duty watchstander at Sector North Carolina. “Making the choice to suspend a search is never an easy choice and one the Coast Guard doesn’t take lightly.”

The names of the teens are not being released at the request of the families. Both the 16- and 17-year-old are from the Wayne County area and were visiting Emerald Isle for a day trip.

Alford said helping was instinctive, and he would do it again.

“I did what I hope anyone would do for me and my family,” Alford said.

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