The director of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) division responsible for predicting weather died Monday in North Carolina while swimming in dangerous conditions that federal forecasters had warned about, reports NBC News.
William Lapenta, head of the NOAA‘s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, drowned Monday while swimming at Pelican Way beach in the town of Duck, according to a statement from the town’s director of public information, Christian Legner.
“Monday’s surf conditions and a rip current in the area were likely a factor” in Lapenta’s drowning, the town’s statement said.
Lapenta, 58, was spotted struggling in the ocean, but in the short time it took rescuers to reach him, he was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The National Weather Service, which oversees the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, warned earlier Monday of a high risk of rip currents along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, saying “the surf is dangerous for all levels of swimmers.”
Lapenta is survived by his wife and two adult children.