Swimmers ignore Hurricane Michael warnings on Hilton Head beaches. 3 rescued, officials say

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Despite high surf and rip current warnings ahead of Hurricane Michael, people continued to swim on Hilton Head Island beaches Wednesday.

Two 9-year-olds and a 15-year-old were rescued on Hilton Head while boogie boarding just after noon Wednesday, Beaufort County Emergency Management Director Neil Baxley at a press conference.

“There’s a reason for the warning,” Baxley said. “…..Fortunately this has ended well, but it could have ended differently.”

Nearly 15 to 20 people were swimming in the water at Coligny Beach at 5 p.m. , including several families with children.

Ron Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, said no one should be in the water.

“They shouldn’t be on the beaches,” Morales said about 5:30 p.m.

Yet, the beach remained busy for an October day.

People sometimes don’t realize the ocean can be dangerous if there is no rain, Morales said. He said they also can underestimate the strength of a rip current.

Waist or chest deep water is enough for a rip current to pull someone away from the coast, he said.

Warnings have been in place for days ahead of Hurricane Michael. The storm, as of 6 p.m., was a Category 3 and had crossed into Georgia.

Tornadoes and tropical storm winds were expected to become a threat to Beaufort County late Wednesday evening into early Thursday morning.