North Carolina

As teen remains missing in Emerald Isle, community rallies for rescued swimmer, families

Emerald Isle, N.C. on Monday, July 13, 2015.
Emerald Isle, N.C. on Monday, July 13, 2015.

Police in Emerald Isle continued their search Sunday for a Wake Forest High School student lost in heavy surf Friday, an accident that drew prayers on social media across the Triangle.

A second Raleigh teen, also a student at Wake Forest High, was rescued from the water and was hospitalized, police said.

While police said Saturday they would continue to search, the Coast Guard said it would suspend its rescue operations. No further details were available Sunday about the search.

Emergency crews got a distress call at 3:50 p.m. Friday, when waves reached heights of 6 to 9 feet, said police Lt. David Ketchum. The Coast Guard began looking for Ian Frazier Lewis, 18, and Mary Paige Merical, 17, after witnesses reported losing sight of them from the beach at about the 9300 block of the Emerald Isle strand.

Rescuers were able to reach Merical, known as Paige, and pulled her from the water to get medical attention. She was transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Her condition was unknown Sunday.

By late Saturday, a GoFundMe page had been established to raise money for Lewis’ family and had brought in more than $1,000 in about 24 hours.

“As his friends we want to raise money for his family and anything they need, as well as funds to create wristbands in his honor. Every little penny is such a blessing to us and Ian and we appreciate every donation endlessly.”

Meanwhile, Wake Forest residents, classmates and friends issued a chorus of calls for prayers on social media for one teen’s recovery and the other to be found.

Lewis is a senior and is involved with the soccer team at Wake Forest High School, according to the team’s Twitter account. “Ian has been a valuable member of our soccer program over the past years,” said a tweet from the team. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ian’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are prevalent along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the U.S. Moving at speeds of up to eight feet per second, rip currents can move faster than an Olympic swimmer. Lifeguards

Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.