Man dies after unsuccessful effort to save swimmer at North Carolina coast


EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Raleigh man died at the North Carolina coast Sunday in an unsuccessful effort to save another man who was having trouble swimming, officials said.

The incident was reported just after 4:15 p.m. as two swimmers in distress at Emerald Isle in the area of 9901 Coast Guard Road near Ship Wreck Lane, according to a news release from Emerald Island officials.  

An Emerald Isle lifeguard along with four surfers went into the surf and tried to rescue the men, officials said.

The group tried to revive the men once they were on shore, however, they were not successful.

 John C. Emerline, 73, of Raleigh and  James Howard Burton, 72, of Cornelius died, according to the news release.  

“A loss of this magnitude is simply heartbreaking,” Emerald Isle Town Manager Matt Zapp said in the release.

Burton was in the ocean and “appeared to be in trouble,” so Emerline entered the water and tried to save him, the news release said.

“It is believed that the swimmers are related via marriage,” the release said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burton and Emerline families during this tragic time,” Zapp added.

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