Music teacher dies trying to save 2 children from rip current off NC beach, cops say

Mark Price
·2 min read

A high school orchestra director died and multiple other people were injured Sunday while trying to rescue two children from a rip current off Kure Beach in southeastern North Carolina, according to Kure Beach Police.

Jessica Lea Embry of Wilmington was pronounced dead at the N Avenue Beach Access around 5:45 p.m., Kure Beach Police said in a news release. She taught at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington.

“Witnesses on scene reported two children caught in a rip current. In an attempt to rescue the children, several bystanders and members of the Kure Beach Fire Department entered the water and successfully brought the children to shore,” police said.

“Embry ... became distressed as she assisted with the rescue. Embry was brought to shore and life saving measures ... were unsuccessful.”

Another of the rescuers was taken to a hospital for observation and several people were “treated at the scene” for undisclosed injuries, police said.

“The Kure Beach Police Department commends the heroic efforts and sacrifice made by Jessica Embry, bystanders, and rescuers,” officials said in the release. “Jessica Embry, along with all involved, are credited with saving the lives of the children.”

Embry was a fine arts teacher and director of the Ashley High School orchestra, according to website for the band. She started working for the school 2010 and joined the staff full time in 2012, the site says. She previously taught orchestra at Lumberton junior and senior high schools in Robeson County, N.C., the site reports.

Ashley High School Principal Patrick McCarty said Embry had a “profound” impact on the community, according to WWAY.

“I struggle to speak about this incident to others because of the type of person Jessica Embry was personally and professionally,” he told the station. “Ms. Embry was ... a deeply committed advocate for Ashley High School. In addition to her passion in the classroom, she loved the arts and played a significant part in our community.”

Lifepoint Church Leland, where Embry was a 10-year member, called the news “devastating.”

“Jessica gave her life in rescuing swimmers from a rip current,” the church wrote. “Immediately after pulling the swimmers from the water she went into cardiac arrest and was unable to be resuscitated.”

Embry was raised in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where she was known as “a talented musician and swimmer,” according WVNews.com.