A search for the nephew of a Chesnee man who died after being caught in a rip tide on Hunting Island beach will continue Wednesday, according to authorities.
Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said a rip current likely swept four members of the same family out to sea on Sunday afternoon, resulting in the drownings of Tiem Mok, 38, and his son, Nathan Mok, 16, both of Chesnee.
On Tuesday, many of those family members gathered at Tiem Mok’s house in Chesnee. A man at the home said family is coming from numerous states across the country to attend the viewing on Friday and cremation Saturday for Tiem and Nathan Mok. Nathan Mok was a rising junior at Boiling Springs High School, according to Spartanburg School District 2. Tiem Mok’s 17-year-old nephew, of Philadelphia, also disappeared. Officials have not released his name.
The Moks, the nephew, and another teenaged family member went into the ocean near beach marker 100 about 4:45 p.m. Sunday. Two were swimming, and two were playing with a boogie board in chest deep water when they were swept farther out to sea, most likely by a strong rip current, Allen said.
One of the teenagers, a 14-year-old girl, made it back to the beach, Allen said. A witness, Glenn White of Gaffney, said the group was more than 300 yards from shore when the boogie board shot out from under them. White and others tried to reach them to help but couldn’t because of strong currents, according to The Island Packet.
The girl was able to get closer to shore by turning over on her back and paddling, White said. When she got close enough, people on the beach helped her out of the water.
White said the girl told him she had tried to grab one of the men in the group by the wrist after they fell off the boogie board, but she wasn’t able to hang on to him in the current. Nathan Mok’s body was pulled from the ocean Sunday. Searchers recovered Tiem Mok’s body shortly after 10 a.m. Monday. Autopsies were scheduled at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Contrary to other reports, everyone but the nephew were able to swim, Allen said. Allen said the search for the nephew will resume Wednesday morning.
The beach at Hunting Island has remained open as responders from numerous law enforcement agencies, EMS and fire districts searched the area. They’ve been assisted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Coast Guard.
Allen said the Moks were camping at Hunting Island State Park with a large group of extended family.
Beachgoers noted the rough waves as rescuers searched the area Monday, according to The Island Packet.