Drownings, deck collapse, shark bite draw national attention

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It proved to be a dangerous and sometimes fatal year along the waters in Brunswick County. The year 2013 saw more than its share of tragic drownings, plus a freakish deck collapse and a rare shark bite, which made national news.


July 3: Rip currents were blamed for four deaths along Brunswick County beaches within 36 hours.

William Nicolaro, 72, of Palm Harbor, Fla., drowned at Ocean Isle Beach on July 3. Nicolaro and his adult son were swimming when both had problems with the current and struggled to get back to shore. Both men were taken to Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, where the father died.

Later that afternoon, 54-year-old Mitchell Lynn McLean of Wilkesboro died after assisting a swimmer who was in distress because of rip currents along Sunset Beach. McLean was the chief district court judge of the 23rd Judicial District.

Sunset Beach Police Chief Lisa Massey said McLean and Edward John Galway III went into the water to assist Galway’s wife, Mary Anne, and another person who were in distress. Mary Anne Galway died that night.

Randall Joyce, 57, of Pfafftown, a suburb of Winston-Salem, drowned July 4 while visiting Holden Beach with his wife and two adult children, Brunswick County Coroner Greg White said. All four family members were in the water and needed assistance after they were caught in the rip current.

Two young men drowned earlier in the year in Brunswick County.

On June 11, South Brunswick High School senior James Prince died in an apparent drowning while swimming with friends along the beach in Oak Island. The well-liked member of the school’s football team was 17.

On May 14, 21-year-old Kwesi Sample, a member of the Xenos Christian Fellowship of Columbus, Ohio, drowned while trying to swim the Lockwood Folly Inlet from Holden Beach to Oak Island as the tide was rising. His body was recovered May 19.


July 9: The sundeck of a large house collapsed at Ocean Isle Beach, sending 21 people, including a child, to three different hospitals in the area.

Reports show that a 911 call was made reporting the incident at 8:20 p.m.

Then-Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Anthony Marzano said about 25 people were on the second-story deck when the floor gave way and they fell onto a concrete patio on the ground floor.

Marzano said there were traumatic injuries including broken bones, lacerations and spinal injuries, but he said he didn’t believe any of the injuries were life-threatening.

Franklin Howey Jr. of Monroe owns the property, according to Brunswick County tax records. The house was listed as a rental property with Williamson Realty on Ocean Isle Beach. Realty owner Frank Williamson said the insurance company completed its investigation and the debris was removed. He said all but four of the people who were injured returned to the home after the accident and spent the night there.


July 11: A shark bite put Barbara Corey on the local 11 o’clock news and then on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Corey was teaching a surf lesson to Cassandra Calloway in about 4 feet of water on Holden Beach, not far from the Lockwood Folly Inlet, “Then I felt like I was slammed by a freight train with teeth.”

Corey yelled to Cassandra she had been bit by a shark and told her to get to the shore. Meanwhile, she held onto a surfboard and used her left foot to kick at the shark, trying to get it to let go. She used the surfboard to ride in to shore and said she looked at her foot to see if it was still there.

“I’m just glad my foot is still there. Anything else is a bonus,” she said.

Corey said doctors told her twice before she wouldn’t be able to surf anymore after she was diagnosed with meningitis and following hip replacement surgery.

Corey has been surfing for 50 years. She said she won’t be stopped by a shark bite.