FRIPP ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – After hours of searching both Sunday and Monday, divers recovered the body of missing Ohio teen, Eric Clark, off the coast of Fripp Island Monday afternoon.
Sixteen-year-old Eric Clark just finished his sophomore year at Thomas Worthington High School in Ohio. He was visiting Fripp Island with his high school basketball team. Sunday afternoon, Clark and two of his teammates were swimming in the ocean in front of their beach rental.
“They were about 20 feet off shore, and it was about 7 feet deep, and the seas were pretty rough, it was very very windy,” said Kate Hines, the general manager with the Fripp Island Property Owners Association.
Hines says the boys’ basketball coach looked out and saw they were struggling.
“The coach went out to try and rescue them and he was able to save two of the boys, but the third boy, Eric Clark, was not able to be rescued,” Hines said.
Security responded within five minutes and within 15, the Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort Sea Rescue, DNR and the Coast Guard had all arrived. They continued the search until dark and began again at 5 a.m. Monday morning, recovering the boy’s body from the water just before 1 p.m.
Hines says the beaches at Fripp Island are usually very safe.
“I’ve been here for 25 years, we have had incidents, but I can’t even remember the last time we had one,” she said.
But the incident is all too familiar to Worthington– just two weeks ago, a kindergarten student drowned while swimming at a country club. The school district’s superintendent, Trent Bowers, released a statement Monday saying:
“No words will adequately express the sorrow we feel for the… families. I have no words that can make either of these events any easier and no words that will help our community understand these tragedies.”
Clark’s family arrived at Fripp Island Monday morning. Hines says many property owners on the island have offered their houses for the boy’s family as well as for families of the team members, anything to help during this tragic time.