Woman mourns 5-year-old son, boyfriend killed after rip current pulls both under at Atlantic Beach


Atlantic Beach, N.C. before Hurricane Florence (Chris Weaver/WGHP)

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ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. — You couldn’t keep 5-year-old Liam out of the water.

“He loved the water,” Erin Peoples told WNCN. “Loved the water. We’ve been out to the beach 15, 20 times since it warmed up.”

On Tuesday, while out on a fishing trip at Atlantic Beach, Peoples’ boyfriend 24-year-old Austin Potter and Liam decided to take a dip.

“There’s a sandbar out there. The water was knee high. Nothing different than anything we’ve done in the previous trips we made. Before I even knew that anything was wrong, everything was wrong,” Peoples said.

Potter and the 5-year-old boy were pulled into the rip current. When emergency crews managed to get them out, they were unresponsive, WNCN reports.

Despite efforts to resuscitate them, both her boyfriend and her son passed away.

Peoples says she had been dating Potter for almost a year after meeting at the Longhorn Steakhouse where they worked.

She said he was great with Liam, a boy who loved cars and dinosaurs and the ocean, and her older son, now her only son.

“For only being 5 years old, he taught all of us such a lesson,” Peoples said to WNCN. “He was so caring to everybody. It didn’t matter who you were. He wanted to be around you, he wanted to talk to you, he wanted to get to know you.”

The death of the 5-year-old boy and 24-year-old man mark the fourth and fifth deaths this season along the Crystal coast.

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