2017-07-12 / Front Page

Service set for Friday for drowning victim

By SAM ADAMS


Crews searched for Richard Mullins Jr. after he went missing in a rip current off the North Carolina coast on Sunday. (Photo by Makenzie Holland, courtesy StarNews) Crews searched for Richard Mullins Jr. after he went missing in a rip current off the North Carolina coast on Sunday. (Photo by Makenzie Holland, courtesy StarNews) Funeral services are scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. Friday for Richard Mullins Jr. of Jenkins, who drowned Sunday in North Carolina.

Search crews in North Carolina on Sunday night found the body of Mullins, 24, washed ashore on Holden Beach after being missing for approximately 7 hours.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard at Wilmington, N.C., Mullins and three friends were swimming near Lockwoods Folly Inlet at the east end of Holden Beach when they became caught in a rip current and were pulled out to sea. The Coast Guard dispatched a small boat from Coast Guard Station Oak Island along with a helicopter from Charleston and several local agencies, including a helicopter from the Brunswick County Sheriff ’s Department.

Three of the swimmers made it to the beach safely. Mullins did not.

According to the Wilmington Star News, Mullins was swimming with friend Melinda Newman of Jenkins and her two children.

Newman, who had planned to move to Holden Beach, told Star News reporter Makenzie Holland that the four had reached a sandbar out in the ocean when they began having difficulty.

“We could reach the sandbar way out,” Newman said. “I can’t swim, so I grabbed him … and said ‘we can’t do this.’ I was trying to come this way, but it kept pulling us back.”

Newman told the Star News that her son was able to help her daughter Amber back to shore while Newman and Mullins began “hollering for help,” after which a couple who had been on the beach were able to rescue her but couldn’t help Mullins before he disappeared under water.

Search teams from the Coast Guard, Sheriff ’s Department, Tri-Beach Fire Dept., Brunswick County Emergency Management, Brunswick County EMS, Coastline Rescue, and Oak Island Water Rescue searched for Mullins throughout the evening. A person walking along the beach found his body about 10:30 p.m. in the surf about 300 yards from where was swimming, according to Holden Beach Police.

Holden Beach is a popular vacation destination in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina, about 30 minutes from Myrtle Beach, S.C. Rip currents are common in the area, especially in the inlets between islands where rivers are flowing out to the sea, and waves are breaking. Rip currents pull swimmers out to the ocean and have been clocked as fast as eight feet per second, faster than an Olympic swimmer, according to Holden Beach Police. Swimmers caught in a rip current should float or tread water, then swim parallel to the beach until they escape the current. Once out of the current, they should swim at an angle back to the beach.

Mullins is the first person to drown at Holden Beach this year, and the fifth along the North Carolina coast in a month. Holden Beach is not life guarded.

Carty Funeral Home of Jenkins is in charge of the service, which will be held July 14 at at Pine Chapel Church. Burial will be in the Mullins family cemetery in Jenkins.

Mullins was a son of Richard Earl Mullins Sr., of Jenkins, and Regina Mullins of Hazard. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Johnny Mack Mullins and April B. Mullins, and Danny Redford; his stepgrandfather, Glen Gross; and an aunt, Bobbie Jean Mullins.

Surviving in addition to his parents are a son, Bryson Earl Mullins and the mother of his child Candice Webb of Dry Fork; a brother, Ricky Lee Mullins of Jenkins; his stepmother, Teresa Mullins of Jenkins; and his step-grandmother, Barbara Gross.

Mullins’s cousin, Katie Ross, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he was a “wonderful man” and “the best cousin ever.”

“He had the funniest personality and the funniest laugh,” Ross told the Herald-Leader in an e-mail message. “I’ll never forget it. Anyone who knew him instantly couldn’t help but like him.”

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