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Three People Die in Swimming Accidents Along Coast

By Associated Press

Dauphin Island AL – The body of a 12-year-old New Orleans boy was recovered Sunday off Dauphin Island and a swimmer pulled from the Gulf of Mexico at Gulf Shores has died the third death in the Alabama surf during the Memorial Day weekend.

Dauphin Island police said Eric Stegall was swimming Saturday evening with his family when he was last seen about 100 yards from shore. His father was unable to reach him because of strong currents, Police Chief George Goodwin said in a statement. The boy's body was recovered by search teams Sunday morning.

In Gulf Shores, George Burnett of Orange Beach was pulled from the water around 4 p.m. Saturday. Police said he was taken to South Baldwin Regional Medical Center by ambulance where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was not immediately known.

On Friday, Michael Evans, 56, of Mississippi was pulled unconscious from the surf in Orange Beach. Rescuers were unable to revive him.

Evans' wife told authorities he had a heart problem, but the cause of death was not immediately known.

"Witnesses told us he went into the surf and was splashing around and next thing you know he was rolling in the surf," Orange Beach Fire Chief Forney Howard told the Press-Register in Mobile.

Evans was airlifted to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., where he was pronounced dead.

The holiday and high temperatures drew large crowds to beaches.

Gulf Shores lifeguards rescued five swimmers from the rough waters Saturday.

Swimmers were in the water, despite the red flags warning people of the dangerous conditions.

Earlier Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard pulled six swimmers from the waters off Dauphin Island.

A Coast Guard spokesman said two swimmers got into trouble near the Dauphin Island Pier. Four people jumped into the water to try and rescue them, but were dragged away from the shore by the strong rip current.

The Coast Guard was called and a 25-foot rescue boat arrived 15 minutes later, pulling all six swimmers to safety.

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