Monday, November 28, 2022

Hickory man drowns at Oak Island, multiple rescue calls follow Tropical Storm Colin

(Courtesy photo)

OAK ISLAND — According to Oak Island officials, a man passed away upon being rescued from the ocean and after failed life-saving measures were taken.

The Oak Island Fire Department, police department, and water rescue were dispatched to the beach access at 25th Pl E on Sunday around 2 p.m., according to a release from the Town of Oak Island. Reports were made that a swimmer was in distress.

“Within minutes, responders arrived to find 52-year-old Kevin Whitley of Hickory, NC had been pulled to shore and was being administered CPR by bystanders,” the release noted.

According to the Oak Island Water and Rescue, an ER physician from Kentucky was leading resuscitation efforts.

Oak Island EMS staff continued the efforts for more than 30 minutes upon arrival until Brunswick County paramedics arrived to transfer the patient. They pronounced Whitley deceased.

While speaking with eye-witnesses and area swimmers, officials learned an off-duty law enforcement officer “swam out past the breakers” to help Whitley, Oak Island Water and Rescue noted. “One witness said the man appeared to be taken into deeper water by an outflowing current.”

The town said Sunday’s call was one of half a dozen received in the wake of Tropical Storm Colin pushing through the area. The storm popped up unexpectedly overnight off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday.

Yellow flags, indicating moderate rip currents, were flying on Oak Island and Caswell Beach on Sunday. The town has upgraded it to red, indicating dangerous water conditions, including severe risk of rip and longshore currents.

The town is advising beachgoers to stay out of the water.

“While neither the death of Mr. Whitley nor the other calls can be confirmed as directly related to rip currents at this time, the need for caution is still very present,” the release noted.

Visitors to the beach are encouraged to follow updates on current surf conditions here. Beach warning flag signage is installed at all public beach accesses throughout the town, accessible by the QR code on each sign. 

Send tips and comments to

Want to read more from PCD? Subscribe now and then sign up for our newsletter, Wilmington Wire, and get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

Related Articles