Former Smith High School science teacher drowns in rip current


Earnest Earl Foster Jr. (Guilford County Schools)

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A man who was once a beloved Guilford County teacher drowned on Sunday, according to the Town of Pine Knoll Shores.

WITN reports he was caught in a rip current on the Crystal Coast.

The town reports 38-year-old Earnest Earl Foster Jr. grew up in Wilson County before working in as a high school teacher in Guilford County.

“The Town’s thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and students,” the town said in a statement.

According to Guilford County Schools, Foster was a science teacher at Smith High School from Jan. 7, 2014, to March 29, 2019, when he left for a new job.

“It hurt all of us this morning. My students are devastated, he connects with them on so many different levels,” former colleague Bernard Mack said.

Foster was a science teacher at the school, but Mack said he was a mentor to many students at Smith, and took time out of his day to get to know them.

“Even though I see him sometimes, the impact he had on my life is more than some people who are in my life forever,” Mack said.

Just before 3 p.m. Sunday, emergency responders led a water rescue for multiple people at Memorial Park beach, WITN reports.

Two people were trying to get three children out of the water.

Two Good Samaritans and all three children were brought to shore.

Atlantic Beach lifeguards found the teacher’s body minutes later.

Smith’s principal said students have already asked about plans to honor the former teacher.

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