SEABROOK — Swimmers at Seabrook Beach are being warned about the dangers of rip currents this summer.
Last August, a rip current pulled six people out into the choppy ocean waters. Michael Cote, 49, and Laura Cote, 47, of Methuen, Mass., died despite rescue efforts by bystanders, New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, Seabrook police and fire crews, Hampton lifeguards and Hampton firefighters.
Town Manager William Manzi said that over the winter the board of selectmen sponsored a plan that would budget money for lifeguards at the beach this summer, but that was rejected by taxpayers. They were able to use some money to purchase a vehicle that would make it easier for rescue workers to access the beach in an emergency, Manzi said.
The Seabrook Beach Village District donated and installed approximately 20 signs that can be seen at entrances to the beach, which warn beachgoers about the rip currents.
On Monday afternoon, Seabrook Beach was busy. People hanging out in the sun had differing opinions about whether there should be lifeguards at the beach.
“A lifeguard wouldn’t hurt. It could be dangerous,” Joce Stavros, of Tewksbury, Mass., said.
Dave Maloney, of Lowell, Mass., said he was at Seabrook Beach the week before the Cotes were killed there last year.
“We don’t let the kids go in alone. Even if we are in Hampton, where there are lifeguards, we wouldn’t depend upon them,” Maloney said.
Hampton Beach also has signs warning people about the dangers of rip currents, which are prevalent on New Hampshire’s Seacoast.
Laurie Allen, of New Boston, was with a separate group of people on Seabrook Beach but agreed with Maloney.
“I never relied on a lifeguard to save my kids,” Allen said. “You have to be a responsible parent.”
The new signs advise people that they need to know how to swim if they plan to get into the ocean, to not swim alone, and if swimmers are caught in a rip current, they should swim parallel to shore until they escape its grip.