69-year-old man is second person in a week to drown at Topsail Beach

69-year-old man is second person in a week to drown at Topsail Beach

TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - A 69-year-old man from Harnett County drowned Sunday in New Topsail Inlet, according to police.

Police Chief Samuel Gervase says he was notified around 2:30 p.m. Sunday that crews pulled a man’s body from the inlet between Topsail Beach and Lea Island.

Gervase identified the victim as 69-year-old Fernando Garcia Jr. of Angier, N.C. Gervase said witnesses saw Garcia kayaking earlier and he then left his kayak on the shore to go swimming.

A bystander saw him later and initially thought he was snorkeling before realizing something was wrong. The bystander flagged down a boat for help pulling Garcia from the water.

A nurse was at the scene and performed CPR on Garcia to no avail.

This is the second drowning in Topsail Beach this week. On Wednesday, first responders pulled the body of 62-year-old Jerry Thompson from the ocean near ocean access three.

Water rescue crews from Pender County were not active Sunday. According to Chief Gervase, the water rescue team that monitors Topsail Beach and Surf City are only active from Memorial to Labor Day.

The New Topsail Inlet is known to be a dangerous place. In the past, boats have capsized in the inlet due to rough conditions and changes to the inlet that aren’t marked. In March, one man died and two others had to swim ashore when their boat capsized in the breakers off of Lea Island.

Town officials urge people to swim with caution.

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