Elton man caught in riptide drowns at Rutherford Beach

An Elton man drowned on Memorial Day just off Rutherford Beach along the Gulf of Mexico as his family was on the beach nearby.

Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Deputy and Sheriff-elect Chris Savoie said Mark Estes, 58, was going fishing in the jetty area shortly before noon Monday when he was caught in a riptide and sucked under the current near the rocks.

Deputies located the body a short time later and first responders attempted to perform life-saving techniques, he said. Despite their best efforts, Estes was pronounced dead at the scene.

Estes was an assistant warden at the Allen Correctional Center near Kinder.

This is the first drowning in the area this year, according to Savoie. However, several near miss drownings were reported over the weekend, including a near drowning reported in the same location later Monday.

Savoie reminds people to stay off the rocks and be aware of the tides and currents which can pose a safety hazard, especially during strong winds.

“The rocks were put out there for erosion control, but every year since the rocks were put there we have had problems,” Savoie said. “I encourage people to stay away from the rocks because they are very dangerous.”

He advises swimmers, fishermen and other beach visitors to stay east and west of the rocks.

“Swim away and stay off the rocks,” he said. “They are jagged, slippery and not the place for people to be.”

Ignoring the warning places visitors to the beach and first responders in danger, he said.

Persons caught in a rip current should not panic and take a parallel-to-the-beach route out of the system, then swim diagonally for the shore. If they cannot break free, they should stay afloat until the rip current dissipates, then swim diagonally for the shore.

Weak swimmers should stay in wading depths and watch for drop-offs that could suddenly plunge them into deeper water.

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