Two individuals, a 12-year-old boy and a 44-year-old man, died after drowning in the Chesapeake Bay in separate incidents, officials said.
Zamari Wilson, who was visiting Virginia Beach with her family from Washington, DC, was last seen around 10 a.m. Sunday about 20 to 30 yards offshore before disappearing, police said.
Police say Wilson’s mother called police shortly after he disappeared and police began responding to the scene.
The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the incident alongside the Virginia Beach Police Department, Virginia Beach Fire Department, and Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services.
Melissa Johnston, public information officer for the VBPD, said the location where Wilson disappeared is a “resort area” where children often go missing, so police tend to search both on land and in the water when a child is reported missing.
After an “extensive search” of the area where Wilson was last seen, the child was found in the water at 1.28pm and taken to an ambulance.
Later that afternoon, Wilson was pronounced dead.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson told ABC News that two 29-foot response boats from Coast Guard Station Little Creek were launched, along with an aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station of Elizabeth City.
The Coast Guard also reported dispatching an 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Sailfish patrol boat.
According to a spokesperson, the Coast Guard helped coordinate the response among local authorities.
Less than a mile from where Wilson was found in the bay, authorities also found the body of a 44-year-old man near the Lesner Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
The VBPD has not yet released the identity of the victim.
Johnston told ABC News that two calls alerted police to the victim, one from the victim’s girlfriend who was swimming with the victim and one from a nearby individual who saw the victim sink.
The woman was swimming with the victim on Sunday when she was swept away by a current which eventually carried her underwater.
According to Johnston, the victim’s girlfriend was able to report someone on a jetski and board the jetski with the owner to search for the victim while awaiting a police response.
The Coast Guard was alerted Sunday afternoon by the VBPD and again assisted with search and rescue. The Coast Guard again dispatched boats and planes from their Little Creek and Elizabeth City stations, and coordinated the response of local authorities involved in the rescue.
The Coast Guard again dispatched boats and planes from their Little Creek and Elizabeth City stations, and coordinated the response of local authorities involved in the rescue.
The Coast Guard told ABC News that the victim’s body was located by VBFD scuba divers.
Johnston told ABC News that this kind of occurrence is not common, especially for the Chesapeake Bay area from which the two victims drowned.
“Where it’s been, there’s usually no big waves or anything crazy there. We usually have issues on the ocean side,” Johnston said.
However, Johnston added that there is always a current in the bay and you can never be sure of the state of the water when you go out. Nevertheless, these are shocking incidents.
“I was trying to remember the last time they drowned [at Virginia Beach]and I couldn’t, so to have two in one day, really close together, it’s just crazy,” Johnston said.
Johnston added that she was not aware of any other incidents of water-related injuries at bay or ocean beaches over the holiday weekend.
Tom Gill, head of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service, told ABC News affiliate 13NewsNow that lifeguards are not working on the bay beaches off Shore Drive, where Sunday’s two drownings occurred.
Gill said people should swim in areas where lifeguards are patrolling the water and added that the majority of lifeguard rescues occur due to incidents involving rip current.
According to annual data from the Medical Examiner’s Office, accidental drownings are responsible for at least 12 child deaths each year.
Drowning is the second leading cause of child death, after car accidents alone. the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Overall, more than 900 people have died from accidental drownings in Virginia from 2011 to 2020. data from the Office of the Medical Examiner reports.
A Coast Guard spokesperson told ABC News that it’s important for people to understand the force of the ocean, even from shore.
More information on how to swim safely and understand rip currents can be found from the US Coast Guard. here.