Ohio man drowns while swimming in Calibogue Sound

bheffernan@islandpacket.comJuly 6, 2013 

An Ohio man drowned Friday while swimming in Calibogue Sound near the Beachside Tennis Villas in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.

Bob Marn, 69, of Chardon, Ohio, was wading in chest-level water with his girlfriend Barbara Harty around 4:15 p.m. when he was pulled under by a rip current, according to the report.

Harty said in the report that she and Marn were holding hands just before the undertow separated them. When she did not see him resurface, she swam to shore and screamed for someone to call 911, the report said. Harty was not injured.

Marn's body surfaced a short time later, the report said.

Attempts by Shore Beach Services lifeguards and Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division emergency responders to resuscitate Marn were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at Hilton Head Hospital, the report said.

Alcohol was not a factor in the drowning, according to county coroner Ed Allen.

Mike Wagner, operations manager of Shore Beach Services, said the area where Marn was swimming, near beach marker nine, can have cross currents, but it's not a particularly dangerous place to swim.

Marn was a "pretty strong guy" who enjoyed swimming, his son, Robert, said Saturday.

He was also a grandfather. He was visiting the island this week for a family reunion, his son said.

The Marns vacationed on Hilton Head once before, in the early 1990s, his son said.

Since then, the family has "all gotten older and spread out across the country," he said.

"We thought (Hilton Head) might be a good place to come back to spend a week."

Despite the tragedy that claimed his father's life, Robert Marn said the reunion was "wonderful."

"There couldn't have been a better way to spend his last week on the planet." he said.

"We're very grateful about that."

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian

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