By Willie Howard
A Boynton Beach man snorkeling on the north side of Boynton Inlet died after he hit the jetty and was swept into the inlet by the tide on Oct. 16.
Paul Swingle, 67, went snorkeling from the beach in Manalapan.
Around 5:20 p.m., anglers fishing on the north jetty noticed that he was struggling against current that was pulling him out to sea, according to a Manalapan police report.
Fishermen yelled at Swingle, telling him to swim south toward them and parallel with the beach, the police report said.
Witnesses told police that Swingle became fatigued and sank below the surface. Waves and current pushed him into the jetty rocks before the incoming tide swept him into the inlet channel.
Two Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue lifeguards (from the guarded beach south of the inlet) jumped into the inlet to help Swingle.
A passing boater stopped, pulled Swingle into his boat and took him to the beach at Ocean Inlet Park, where a Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue truck was waiting.
Rescue workers took Swingle to JFK Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Swimmers who enter the water from the beach immediately north of Boynton Inlet are not protected by lifeguards. The inlet is known for its powerful currents.
A sign on the path leading to that section of Manalapan beach warns of “hazardous conditions” in the unguarded area. An arrow on the sign directs swimmers to the guarded swimming area on the south side of the inlet.
Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue officials at Ocean Inlet Park refused to comment on Swingle’s drowning, referring questions to the county’s Risk Management Department.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was still investigating the drowning as of late October.
By Willie Howard