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Mississippi minister dies in ocean off Myrtle Beach

A 74-year-old Baptist minister died Thursday after he was pulled from the ocean near 82nd Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, according to authorities.

The man, from Tupelo, Miss., was swimming with his granddaughter near the Marriott just before 12:30 p.m. Thursday when he began struggling, said Myrtle Beach police Capt. David Knipes.

Lifeguards noticed the commotion in the water and went to the rescue, Knipes said. He said the victim was face down in the water and had no pulse.

They pulled the man from the water and began CPR until EMS arrived, Knipes said.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal identified him as The Rev. Bill Smith, former missions director of the Lee County Baptist Association. Smith was a founding member of the Greater Tupelo Ministerial Alliance and spent his career building relationships across racial and denominational lines, the newspaper said.

Horry County Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said Smith fell in the water because he was having a heart attack, which was the cause of his death.

Smith, who was vacationing in the area with family and friends, was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center where he later died.

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