3 pulled underwater by Gulf rip currents, drown

GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) - Three men drowned in dangerous rip currents on the Alabama coast, and crews searched Monday for a fourth person who hadn't been seen since going under, authorities said.

Two deaths and the disappearance occurred within a few miles of each other Sunday.

Baldwin County Coroner Stanley Vinson said Matthew Hattaway, 25, of Bossier, La., was pronounced dead about 3 p.m. Sunday. A relative spotted him floating in the surf.

John Hogue, 51, of Overland Park, Kan., died on the beach a few hours later, said Vinson. He had been swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and was pulled from the surf unconscious.

Vinson said a third person disappeared in the water around the same time. Fire and rescue crews were making checks on the beach for the person, the coroner said.

Authorities said all three people were swimming off Fort Morgan Peninsula near Gulf Shores when they got into trouble.

"The waves didn't appear all that large, but the rip currents were really bad," said Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city of Gulf Shores, near where the incidents occurred.

On Monday, William H. Moore, of Jonesboro, Ark. died when he tried swimming to a woman who was having trouble staying afloat near the Gulf State Pier. Vinson said another swimmer was able to pull the woman to shore and Moore's body was found floating in the water about an hour later by Alabama Marine Police.

Vacationers sometime fail to recognize the danger of rip currents, which can pull swimmers underwater and out to sea even when the water appears relatively calm on the surface, Vinson said.

"You don't see many locals out there swimming when it's like that," he said.

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