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Horry County on Sunday has 7th reported drowning this season

Rescue personnel responded to a swimmer in distress on 14th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach last month.
Rescue personnel responded to a swimmer in distress on 14th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach last month. jlee@thesunnews.com

A seventh person has drowned in Horry County since Memorial Day weekend.

William Tompkins Sr., 48, of Conway was pulled from the Waccamaw River in the area of Channel View Road around 5:50 p.m. Sunday, said Horry County deputy coroner Darris Fowler. Fowler said he was reported as a missing swimmer around 12:15 p.m.

Horry County Fire and Rescue crews and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources had divers search the water near Pottery Landing Drive off of U.S. Highway 701 in the Conway area early Sunday evening, according to Horry County fire spokesman Brian VanAernem.

The Department of Natural Resources is investigating the incident.

On Saturday, Lewis Barkley III, 36, of Summerville drowned while swimming near First Avenue North in North Myrtle Beach.

Three of the seven deaths this season took place in the Atlantic Ocean, one in a pool at a hotel on Ocean Boulevard, one in the Intracoastal Waterway and the other two occurred in nearby rivers. Three of the deaths occurred during Memorial Day weekend.

Grand Strand officials have encouraged residents and tourists to stay safe while in the water.

“Be aware that the ocean is not just a bigger version of a swimming pool,” North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling has said. “It is dynamic, and in particular it has rip currents that can pop up unannounced. … Many of the drownings that have occurred in recent years along the Grand Strand have involved rip currents.”

“The variables appear to be that someone gets caught in one, panics, gets disoriented, and drowns, or, an inexperienced family member, friend or stranger tries to rescue someone caught up in a rip current, does not have the skills to do it, and they drown,” Dowling said and suggested going to www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov to learn about rip currents before going to the beach.

Swimming near a lifeguard and going to the beach with a friend who knows your whereabouts will increase anyone’s chances of being safe while in the water, officials said.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.

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