TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – The victim of a drowning on Tybee Island over the weekend has been identified as an American soldier, officials say.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Craig W. Mulder, 39, drowned on Sunday near 19th Street, and officials say it’s the fifth drowning this year.
Mulder was stationed at Camp Humphreys in South Korea and was an Apache Longbow pilot.
He was in Georgia to participate in routine aviation training at Hunter Army Airfield.
“The Talon team is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and teammate. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to his friends and loved ones,” said Col. Aaron Martin, commander, 2CAB, 2ID/RUCD.
“It was an honor to serve with a trusted professional like Craig. During his time here, he served with distinction. Craig’s ability to brighten someone’s day with a joke was unparalleled. He was an optimist who believed in constantly moving forward. His efforts will have a lasting impact on the Soldiers he devotedly mentored and trained, and our operations in Korea,” Martin added.
Mulder completed two combat deployments to Iraq, and his awards and decorations include the Army Parachutist Badge, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
According to the city, lifeguards were dispatched to the area at 3:26 p.m. to search for a swimmer in distress. They recovered the Mulder’s body at 4:41 p.m. about 100 yards offshore.
Just last month another drowning happened. This one was further down the beach. Police say a man jumped off the pier then got caught in a riptide.
Terrell Peterson lives on Tybee Island. As a surfer, he’s familiar with the water and says things can go from bad the worse in a matter of seconds.
“The tide pulls between and low and high tide are very deceiving so they can pull you much stronger than what you think,” said Peterson.
Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions says a red flag warning was in place all day on Sunday because high winds were making the water rough.
The mayor tells WSAV that she and city council members are discussing ways to help make the beach safer during red flag days.
She says they’re discussing putting up signage showing the sandbar at low and high tide. Tybee City Manager Shawn Gillen added that they’re also considering closing the area to swimmers when waters get too rough.
“It’s something our fire department really takes to heart,” Gillen said. “It’s challenging for them because they have to deal with it face to face, and the rip currents are very dangerous.”
He continued: “When that wind starts blowing and the wave action gets pretty rough, people can get in trouble real fast and they might not realize it.”
Gillen says lifeguards will remain on patrol through the fall. While a red flag warning was in place during the most recent drowning, he says they want to put warnings up sooner.
“Closing it off entirely to swimmers in certain areas is challenging of course because it’s such a big beach,” said Gillen.
Gillen says they couldn’t make that move without a city council vote.