Body of 2nd of 3 missing swimmers pulled from surf at Hunting Island

The Hilton Head Island PacketJuly 15, 2013 

FILE PHOTOThe top revenue-producing parks in the S.C. State Parks system in the__past year were the busy beach parks. Hunting Island brought in $2.94__million, and Myrtle Beach earned $2.93 million.

FILE PHOTOGRAPH — THE STATE

— A second body has been pulled from the waters near Hunting Island on Monday morning, after the resumption of the search for two of the three swimmers reported missing Sunday afternoon.

The body of 16-year-old Nathan Mok of Chesnee, was recovered Sunday afternoon off the coast of Hunting Island.

At 10 a.m. Monday, his father, Tiem Mok, 38, was found by a beachgoer, Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released the name of the third missing swimmer, other than to say he is a 17-year-old relative of the Moks from Philadelphia. Authorities are attempting to notify his immediate family.

The three swimmers were reported missing at 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

A 14-year-old girl swimming with them said they were struggling against strong currents. When she became separated from the group, she swam back to shore and called for help, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release Sunday.

A National Weather Service in Charleston alert said the four swimmers were caught in a rip current.

Witness Glenn White of Gaffney said the group was using a boogie board when they were swept out to sea, and none of them appeared able to swim. He said the group was pulled out a few hundred yards from the beach when they began to scream for help.

“The boogie board jumped straight out of the water and they just slid off,” he said.

White and others started running down the beach trying to keep up with them. White and other bystanders trying to reach the group waded out into neck-deep water, but the group was too far away and moving too quickly in the current for them to help.

White said the girl turned on her back to float and paddled back to the shore, and he and others helped pull her to safety. The girl said she had grabbed one of the boys by the wrist, but he slipped from her grip in the current.

White said the entire incident occurred so quickly, he almost didn’t know what happened. As he went to fish down the beach to clear his mind, White said his wife spotted someone in the water.

“It was one of the guys,” he said. “I ran out and grabbed him and dragged him in. The authorities came down and got him after.”

Search efforts to rescue the other two swimmers by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Coast Guard, Hunting Island park rangers and the Fripp Island and Lady’s Island fire departments were called off at about 8:45 p.m. Sunday as the sun set.

Tiem Mok was found about two miles south of where he, his son and the 17-year-old relative disappeared in strong tides near waterfront cabins at the southern tip of the island, Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District Assistant Chief Scott Goneke said.

The victims were part of a group vacationing in the campground on Hunting Island, the report said.

Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said there were no obvious signs of physical injury on the body of the teenager recovered from the water Sunday. An autopsy is planned.

Allen expressed his condolences for the swimmers Sunday night.

“As a community, we give this family who was visiting this area our thoughts and prayers,” he said.

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