Chief: 'Teen may have fallen into hole under water'

By Eric

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Rescue crews pulled three teenagers from the ocean off Sullivan's Island on Tuesday. One of them, a 17-year-old boy, did not survive.

Sullivan's Island Fire Chief Anthony Stith, who help find the swimmers, said the boys were on a sandbar and possibly stepped off it into a hole. That's when they may have gotten into trouble.

Stith said the teens were in chest deep water, beyond the sandbar and well beyond the breakers.

James Williamson was the last swimmer found. He was spotted by a helicopter. Officials said he showed little life when they got him out of the water.

"He was unconscious at the time," said Stith. "They brought him to the beach, we drove out as far as we could into the water, met the jet skis with the truck and put him in the back of the truck."

Witnesses on the beach saw the same thing, trucks driving through water to get to him.

"We saw them rescue the third one off the point over there, and when they got him on the truck they were doing CPR," said Cathy Dicus, a witness.

Stith said Williamson and two more teens were in the ocean near Station 28 1/2 for probably an hour after a fourth friend called for help.

There are signs along the beach in the area to warn of the unseen danger offshore. But low tide and an inviting sandbar may have given a false sense of security.

"They probably got caught up in some current," Stith said. "They stepped off the sandbar, you get that slide, it's like no bottom for three to four feet."

Stith said Williamson could have went under, panicked and never recovered.

Williamson was a senior at Fort Dorchester High School.