Virginia Beach Oceanfront lifeguards rescue 31 on July 4, look ahead to Elsa

Virginia Beach Oceanfront July 2021.jpg
Posted at 6:53 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 11:56:28-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Lifeguards at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront were ready for big crowds over the July 4th weekend, but what they got was even more chaotic than expected.

"The day never stopped and while it was exhausting, we loved every part of it," said Tom Gill, Chief of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service, which provides lifeguards to the City of Virginia Beach.

According to Gill, the beach was the busiest he's ever seen it on Sunday, with lifeguards:

  • Pulling 31 from the water in 22 rescues.
  • Helping eight find transportation to the hospital.
  • Reuniting 119 lost children with their families.

In all, Gill calls it a successful weekend for his lifeguards. He says rip currents, as expected, were the biggest challenge. In one instance, three lifeguards were needed to pull in one person on a boogie board.

"It was so close to shore, but you could just see it just treadmilling them backwards until [the rip current] just dissipated and they were able to get the person back in. What should have been a really short rescue probably took an extra minute and a half, two minutes," recalled Gill to News 3.

Now, the attention turns to later in the week with Tropical Storm Elsa predicted to impact Hampton Roads and the surrounding area. The Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service is taking those preparations day-by-day.

"While we might be expecting bigger rip currents, we're going to assess it, take a look and then do what we need to do in order to keep everyone safe. If that means put the red flags up and put on some restrictions, we'll do it," said Gill.

Gill says July is typically a busy month for the beach, with water conditions staying fairly calm. He says conditions tend to worsen in August.

For more information on staying safe on the beach, click HERE.

Related: Safe This Summer: Beach lifeguards staying busy as firefighters warn against digging in the sand