Teen’s drowning shows danger around sand bars


The three swimmers who were pulled from the ocean off Sullivan’s Island Tuesday were relaxing on a sand bar at low tide when they stepped into a hole and found themselves in trouble.

Two of the teenage boys are fine. Rescuers could not revive James Williamson II, 17, of North Charleston.

“It looks so inviting out there,” Sullivan’s Island Fire and Rescue Chief Anthony Stith said Wednesday. “You’ve just got to be real careful around sand bars. There are too many holes.”

Williams was a senior at Fort Dorchester High School. He loved fishing, video games and four-wheeling in his 1992 Toyota, according to his obituary.

“He enjoyed having a good time in life,” said his father, James “Randy” Williamson, said Wednesday. “He loved his friends and would do anything in the world for them.”

Many of his friends expressed their shock and sorrow on Twitter Wednesday. One of them posted a photo of Williamson holding up a jar of Jif peanut butter.

“He did love peanut butter,” his father said.

Williamson had not yet decided if he would go to college or join the military after summer school, his father said.

It’s easy to get in trouble around the sand bars off Sullivan’s Island, Stith said. Here’s what happened Tuesday, according to the chief:

Four teenage boys were out on a sand bar about 200 yards from shore at Station 281/2. One of them went to the beach to smoke a cigarette. Then he noticed his friends weren’t there anymore.

A dispatcher put out a call about 3:45 p.m. that three swimmers were missing in the water. Multiple agencies sent out search vessels, including boats and helicopters.

About 4:40 p.m., a man on a paddleboard started waving a paddle. He had found one of the swimmers treading water.

The second boy was spotted about six minutes later and brought back to shore.

Both teens were taken to East Cooper Medical Center to recover.

Williamson was found floating in the water at 5:04 p.m. He was brought back to shore and given CPR but did not recover.

It was the first fatality of the year on Sullivan’s Island.

“The first, and hopefully the last,” Stith said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.