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Palm Harbor bishop among three drowned off N.C. beach


Published:   |   Updated: July 5, 2013 at 11:41 AM

SUNSET BEACH, N.C. - A bishop, who served as pastor of the Holy Apostles Community in Palm Harbor, was among three people who drowned off a North Carolina beach Thursday after being caught by rip currents.

William Nicolaro, 72, drowned off of Ocean Isle Beach, while Nicolaro's son made it to shore and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Born in Newark, N.J., Nicolaro was ordained as a deacon in 1986 and worked as a full-time pastoral associate at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Dunedin in 1989.

Nicolaro became ordained into the priesthood in 1996 in the Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada, and was ordained as Bishop Angelo a year later.

This year, Nicolaro was named Archbishop Angelo of the Greater District of Pinellas County.

A visitation will be held Monday from 6-8 p.m. at Holy Apostles Church, 1605 Pinehurst Road in Dunedin, with a funeral at the church on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Grippo; children William, Ann Marie, Michael, Lisa and Christina; and 18 grandchildren.

A North Carolina judge and the woman he tried to rescue also drowned off nearby Sunset Beach, also in Brunswick County.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for a severe rip current threat that continued through at least the afternoon, Sunset Beach police Chief Lisa Massey said. Rip currents are strong channels of water that are difficult for the untrained eye to see. Panicked swimmers often drown from exhaustion as they try to fight the current.

When conditions are favorable for rip currents, individuals should swim at beaches with lifeguards, said Brad Reinhart, NWS meteorologist in Wilmington.

If caught in a rip current, people should let the water carry them out to sea while trying to swim parallel to shore, as the currents are usually narrow and funnel through breaks in sandbars.

"Rip currents are fairly common at our beaches," Reinhart said. "Even on days when we have a low risk of rip currents you can see individual ones that might be powerful enough to pull a child or someone that's not a strong swimmer. Any swimmer should be aware of the threat and know how to effectively escape it."

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