Emerald Isle Drowning

July 12, 2020

For Immediate Release 

Emerald Isle, NC:  On Sunday, July 12, 2020, at approximately 4:17 pm, Carteret County Emergency Communications reported two swimmers in distress in the area of 9901 Coast Guard Road on the beach strand near Ship Wreck Lane.  

Four surfers and a Town of Emerald Isle lifeguard entered the water, attempting to recuse two men. Once on shore, lifesaving efforts were initiated by the surfers and lifeguard until emergency medical services arrived.  

Despite the efforts of the volunteers and first responders, both men succumbed to their injuries. 

The swimmers are identified as James Howard Burton, 72, of Cornelius, North Carolina and John C. Emerline, 73, of Raleigh, North Carolina.  

Reports indicate that Mr. Burton was in the ocean and appeared to be in trouble.  Mr. Emerline entered the water and attempted to save him. It is believed that the swimmers are related. 

 “A loss of this magnitude is simply heartbreaking,” stated Town Manager Matt Zapp.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burton and Emerline families during this tragic time.”


Media Contact:

Matt Zapp, Town Manager



Posted by Rhonda Ferebee Monday, July 13, 2020 8:11:00 AM Categories: News