Park officials are urging the public to be very careful when swimming along the North Carolina coast after a 61-year-old man died in battered waters likely brought on by Hurricane Dorian’s approach.
The unnamed man, from Virginia, was not wearing a flotation device in the water off Cape Hatteras National Seashore near Hatteras Village, North Carolina, on Sunday when a bystander saw him “in apparent distress,” park officials said in a statement. The bystander managed to pull him to shore, where he was met by rescue personnel who performed CPR on the swimmer.
The man did not survive.
“Our staff offer our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac said in the statement. “We urge all visitors to be very careful when swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, especially with the approaching storm. Additionally we would like to thank the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad for their swift response.”
The man’s cause of death is unknown and the medical examiner did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
Park officials said that there was a high risk of rip currents for most of the beaches along Cape Hatteras National Seashore, with several rip currents spotted in the area.
The death comes as the U.S. braces for Hurricane Dorian, which is heading to the mainland as a Category 2 storm after pummeling the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane over the weekend.
Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas for over 36 hours after striking the region on Sunday, packing deadly floodwaters, heavy rain and fierce winds, the Washington Post reported.
Five people have been confirmed dead in the Bahamas, including an 8-year-old boy who likely drowned as his family fled the storm in the Abaco Islands over the weekend. The storm damaged or destroyed several homes and businesses in the Bahamas, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a recent news conference. The storm only began moving out of the Bahamas on Tuesday. By the time Dorian departs completely from the area, parts of the Bahamas will have seen more than 30 inches of rain, according to CNN.
Now, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Virginia have all declared states of emergency as Hurricane Dorian threatens several coasts.
The National Hurricane Center announced on Tuesday that Dorian will slowly move north, close to the Florida east coast through Wednesday, and pass near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday before going “near or over” the North Carolina coast on Thursday. North Carolina could see hurricane-force winds and the Florida coast could experience flash flooding.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday issued a mandatory state evacuation order for barrier islands along the entire coast as Dorian approaches.
“Now is the time to make sure your family is prepared. #dorianNC still a few days away, so make sure emergency kit is stocked; have food for several days; figure out where you would go,” Cooper said.
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