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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tragedy at North Carolina beach

The peril of a simple walking on the beach is manifested again from this report by Jeb Phillips in the Columbus Dispatch this morning:

A West Side woman on vacation at North Carolina's Outer Banks drowned Sunday after a wave knocked her down and she inhaled water.

Wilma Froggatt, 63, was walking on the beach with her husband and a friend after days of being cooped up by bad weather, said David Froggatt, Wilma's husband of 46 years.

The Froggatts had arrived in the community of Rodanthe with another couple the previous Monday, and remnants of Hurricane Ida had begun hitting the Outer Banks on Wednesday. A part of the highway serving the area was washed out on Thursday.

The roughest conditions had passed by Sunday, and the Froggatts and their friend went to the Rodanthe beach in the early afternoon, Mr. Froggatt said. They were near a sandbag barrier when a "rogue wave" hit, he said. It knocked his wife down, and she began sliding toward the water. As he went after her, another wave drenched them both.

Mr. Froggatt was able to pull his wife away from the ocean, but she had trouble breathing. She managed to talk for a few minutes.

"She told me, 'I'm not going to make it,' " he said. "She told me she loved me."

By the time the first emergency responders arrived, she had lost consciousness, said Mike Daugherty, chief of the Chicamacomico Banks Fire Department. Daugherty was one of those first responders.

Mrs. Froggatt was taken to a Rodanthe helicopter pad and then flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va., where she was pronounced dead. The chief medical examiner's office in the Tidewater District ruled the death an accidental drowning.

She had always loved to travel, especially to the East Coast, her husband said, and had a positive outlook on life.

"She was a wonderful companion," he said. "She was the rock of my life."

Our heartfelt sympathy and condolences go to Mr. Froggatt and his family and friends. The kind of freaque wave hit can not be considered as uncommon, but the damage it caused is of immeasurable human tragedy that no one should expect to suffer. Similar things happen all the time all around the globe. We don't know how to prevent it or predict its happening. We need more measurements for real research all around which are not presently available. A few academic textbook or computer exercises are grossly inadequate. When will the power that be be expected to pay attention to this kind of research needs?

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