New Hampshire

Push for Better Rip Current Safety and Awareness After Deaths in Seabrook, NH

What to Know

  • A 49-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman, both from Methuen, Mass., were unconscious after being rescued; the man died at the hospital.
  • The woman who suffered life-threatening injuries died the following day. The couple has been identified as Michael and Laura Cote.
  • Debra Tomaszewski, whose son, Matthew, rescued several people, is pushing for more to be done to warn of, and protect against, rip currents.

Debra Tomaszewski says she saw it all unfold from her deck — six people were caught in a powerful rip current off Seabrook Beach in New Hampshire.

"We just heard these blood curdling screams for help," said Tomaszewski.

Her son, Matthew, immediately jumped into the water and saved several lives, even before emergency crews arrived. But Mike and Laura Cote did not make it.

More than three weeks later, Tomaszewski is still struggling to comprehend why the beach only has signs warning people about swimming at their own risk and there are no lifeguards on duty. Now, she's trying to change that.

"So nothing like this can happen again," explained Tomaszewski.

The police and fire departments are getting behind Tomaszewski's detailed plan to equip first responders with more tools rescue torpedoes, warning flags, binoculars and body boards.

She also hopes to bring in nearby Hampton Beach lifeguards to help cover the area. While the team hasn't settled on a final number, she's reassuring anyone concerned about the costs that it will be worth it.

"If this is too expensive, let's look at another one, then, maybe a little less expensive," Tomaszewski said. "But let's do something."

While summer is quickly fading, Tomaszeski hopes these upgrades and changes will be in place by next year to help save lives.

"We're using this as an opportunity to come together and improve a situation," said Tomaszeski.

This plan will be presented to the town's selectmen for approval Monday, Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Seabrook Town Hall. The meeting will also be open for public comment.

Rip currents usually form in low spots on a beach, near breaks in a sandbar or around piers and jetties. Click here to learn more about rip currents and what to do if someone is caught in one.

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