MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Labor Day has passed and that means fewer lifeguards patrolling the beach. But during the summer, two companies that work to keep you safe, were at the center of controversy. It’s been a hot topic lately at Myrtle Beach city council meetings. While there’s no plan in place yet for next year, officials say it’s certainly something they’re working on.
Millions of people swim in Myrtle Beach every year. Most make it out just fine. This year alone, six did not. Lt. Joey Crosby said this was a summer he’ll never forget.
“When you have the loss of a young life, many of us are fathers or we have young kids in our lives and when you see a tragic accident like that occur it really stays with us for a period of time, it’s something we still talk about.”
Over the last five years, 12 drowning deaths happened in Myrtle Beach. This year accounts for half of those and that’s something Crosby says the city has to look into.
“The officers carry that burden as well and the firefighters and the lifeguards because it’s a loss of life on their watch. It’s a loss that occurred while they were working and it’s something each of those individuals take very seriously and it’s something I can promise you they will never forget.”
Crosby says his beach unit works on public safety, but can’t be responsible for everything.
“The lifeguards are very important, they’re the first line of defense.”
But this year, one lifeguard was caught sleeping. With a different company, ten out of 13 lifeguards were not properly certified.
“As we all know the lifeguard companies are a franchise agreement which is approved by council.”
Crosby has no control over those lifeguard companies so we asked city spokesman Mark Kruea what the city plans to do about the lifeguard problem.
He said in a statement, “the myrtle beach lifeguards franchise remains suspended. Two of the other water safety franchises are covering the beach so safety is not compromised. If it is necessary to redistribute those 10 blocks of franchise territory, city council can do that at some point before next season.”
Crosby also said that all first responders involved with beach patrol will get together before the end of the year and see if there is anything they can do better next year.