Ernest F. McCracken, 40, carpenter, saved William I. Joyner, 35, carpenter, and died attempting to save Shirley Joyner, 14, from drowning, Long Beach, North Carolina, July 6, 1958. Joyner and his daughter Shirley became caught in a strong current in the Atlantic Ocean and were carried away from shore. McCracken, who was overweight, was attracted and swam through breakers and swells as much as four feet high, reaching Joyner and Shirley 125 feet from shore in water 12 feet deep between swells. Shirley was swept from the reach of McCracken, who then secured a hold on Joyner, towed him 100 feet to wadable water, and dragged him to the beach. Although he was already tired and breathing heavily, McCracken ignored the warnings of others and re-entered the water. With difficulty he swam to Shirley, who had been carried a 100 feet farther from shore. McCracken secured a hold on Shirley, but was unable to make any progress in towing her. George W. Beheler, who had not swum for over a year because of a leg injury, arrived at the beach and, noting that nobody was preparing to give aid, entered the water fully clothed. He reached McCracken and Shirley 225 feet from shore in water 15 feet deep. As Beheler took hold of Shirley, McCracken swam alone 15 feet toward shore and then disappeared beneath the surface. Shirley struggled violently with Beheler and twice forced him beneath the surface before he secured a hold on her. Beheler and Shirley then were carried farther away from shore by the strong current. In order to remove his water-soaked trousers which impeded his swimming, Beheler released Shirley. He quickly took off his trousers, but by then Shirley had disappeared. A lifeguard arrived and aided Beheler in searching the water, after which they returned to shore, the lifeguard aiding Beheler part of the way. The bodies of McCracken and Shirley later were recovered.
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