VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Two lifeguards and a Good Samaritan pulled a man from the water at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Sunday afternoon, but they were not able to save him.
All day the red flags were up at the Oceanfront, warning swimmers of the dangerous conditions. Just before 2 p.m., there was a tragic reminder of how rough the waves actually were — emergency communications received a 911 call about a drowning near 61st Street.
According to Virginia Beach EMS, 46-year-old Benjamin McCallister was swimming with his family in the ocean when someone from his party noticed he’d been missing for at least 15 minutes.
A lifeguard from the 57th Street lifeguard stand was notified and went into the water after spotting McCallister floating face down about 50 yards out. With the help of a second lifeguard and a bystander, the man was pulled to shore, unconscious and not breathing.
“The one lifeguard that went in couldn’t pull him out by himself,” added witness Dee Amentler. “Another lifeguard went in and a third lifeguard went in to pull him out. They were doing CPR it seemed liked forever, but it was probably like 10 minutes. It was really scary. It was the first time I‘ve ever seen that.“
Medics began initiating emergency care and transported McCallister to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“The family was on the beach,” Adams added. “It was just really sad.“
There was no red flag flying at 61st Street, so McCallister may not have known about the danger.
“It was just a rough day,” Adams said. “I guess he got pulled out to far.“
The closest lifeguard stand was four blocks away at 57th Street. WAVY.com was told a lifeguard supervisor does patrol the North End beaches on an ATV daily, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Our advice to everyone is swim near a lifeguard,” Gill said. “There’s no level of swimming expertise that a lifeguard can’t help.“
Officials say McCallister is from West Virginia.