09/11/2005 Greg Norton ( South Carolina ) ***Fatal***

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Re: 09/11/2005 Greg Norton ( South Carolina ) ***Fatal***

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Coast Guard stops search for surfer, but Folly workers, volunteers keep on

Copyright The Post and Courier Sep 14, 2005

FOLLY BEACH--The Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing surfer as city rescue workers and volunteers battled 40 mph gusts and 6-foot waves Tuesday during their search for Greg Allen Norton Jr.

Officials at Folly Beach were only able to use personal watercrafts and boats as they searched the Folly River and south to Kiawah Island.

"We're totally frustrated," said Folly Beach Police Chief George Tittle. "It's frustrating because we cannot simply find him and return him to his family."

While the Coast Guard suspended its operation Monday night, at least 20 rescue workers and volunteers used boats, personal watercrafts or walked the beach with binoculars during intermittent rain bands caused by Hurricane Ophelia. Tittle spent the day coordinating search efforts and updating family members.

"We've searched everywhere that we believe he could have drifted," said Robert Taylor, a spokesman with the Coast Guard. "If he was on the surface, we feel like we would have found him."

Tittle said he would keep searching today, but he might be forced to reduce the number of officers involved.

Norton, 18, of Goose Creek, disappeared Sunday afternoon while surfing with four friends 200 feet from the shore in 3- to 4-foot waves.

Some surfers have said Norton was attacked by a shark, but Tittle has dismissed the idea.

"We can't confirm a shark attack," Tittle said.

A senior at Northwoods Academy, Norton had some surfing experience. If he was surfing with friends, he was likely a fairly experienced surfer, said Bubber Hutto of the Charleston chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

The surfing community on Folly Beach has been hit hard by Norton's disappearance, he said.

"We are a close-knit community," Hutto said. "We don't like to see anyone get hurt."

Credit: Of The Post and Courier Staff

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09/11/2005 Greg Norton ( South Carolina ) ***Fatal***

Post by sharkbait »

Greg Allen Norton Jr. of Goose Creek was surfing at 2 p.m. Sunday with several friends about 200 feet from shore among three- to four- foot waves during high tide when he disappeared---

September 12, 2005
Surfer vanishes off Folly
Greg with his board at Folly Beach, SC
Greg with his board at Folly Beach, SC
GregNorton.jpg (17.51 KiB) Viewed 16135 times
Authorities say they will resume search today.

Divers will return to the waters off Folly Beach this morning in search of a missing 18-year-old surfer, authorities said.

Greg Allen Norton Jr. of Goose Creek was surfing at 2 p.m. Sunday with several friends about 200 feet from shore among three- to four- foot waves during high tide when he disappeared, according to George Tittle, director of public safety for Folly Beach.

Friends said Norton was not tethered to his board, according to Tittle.

Folly Beach police launched a search-and-rescue operation and requested support from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Coast Guard and Charleston County Rescue Squad, Tittle said.

Two helicopters, three boats and two jet skis were deployed to the area just south of the fishing pier, and six divers were searching a wide swath of ocean from Third Street West to the southernmost point of Folly Beach, about a mile and a half away, said Lt. Jack Scarborough of the Sheriff's Office.

Although Hurricane Ophelia stirred up the waters off the South Carolina shore, divers said the currents were manageable but that the water becomes more active and difficult to navigate when the tide moves in or out.

By early evening Tittle was not optimistic Norton would be found.

"We're in recovery mode right now," he said.

Tittle said he would rely on a skeleton crew to monitor the beach with spotlights during the night in case Norton washes ashore.

Distraught friends and family were gathered on the porch of a nearby house. The Rev. Bill Youngblood of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy said Norton's brother, sister, father, friends and church pastor were awaiting Norton's mother and consoling one another as hope faded and rescue workers wound down their operation for the night.

Norton was there one moment and gone the next, witnesses said. Only his surfboard was seen floating on the water.
At least two witnesses said sharks had been seen in the area at the time of his disappearance and that Norton might have been pulled under the water by one.

Alton Wiggins, who was surfing Sunday at Folly Beach, said he spoke with a friend of Norton's who was nearby when Norton disappeared. "He said a surfer had been pulled under," he said, and that a shark was involved. "He said he saw him get hit and pulled under."

Norton's surfboard was recovered and bore no signs of a shark bite, police said.

Another witness, Karla Winningham of Summerville, said sharks were spotted swimming in the area where Norton had been.

"I saw the fins," she said.

Others reported seeing porpoises, Tittle said. Authorities are treating the case as a search for a missing surfer, not a shark attack, he said.

He expects to fully resume the recovery operation at daybreak and has asked authorities on Kiawah Island and elsewhere down the coast to be on the lookout.

"Right now we're working for the family, trying to make sure we do everything we can do," Tittle said.

Adam Parker can be reached at aparker@postandcourier.com or 607- 0806.

Staff writer Schuyler Kropf contributed to this report.

Credit: Of The Post and Courier Staff

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