Bench, little red mailbox honor Wesley Belisle at Dowdy Park

A memorial on the beach for Wesley Belisle, a 4-year-old New Hampshire boy swept away by waves in April 2018. [Kari Pugh photo]

The family of Wesley Ryan Belisle, the 4-year-old boy swept away by rough surf in Kitty Hawk almost one year ago, has adopted a bench in his honor at Dowdy Park.

The Wesley’s Way Foundation, established in June 2018, decided to support the Nags Head park because the little boy enjoyed the playground while vacationing in Kitty Hawk last spring.

A bench and little red mailbox in Wesley Belisle’s honor at Dowdy Park. [Photo courtesy Town of Nags Head]
Wesley and his mom were taking a seaside walk April 25 when the tragedy happened. The waves were deceptively rough, and one knocked into Wesley and his mother. Before she knew it, she’d lost sight of him in the surf.

Five hours of searching by air and sea over 130 nautical square miles turned up no sign of the boy. The rescue became a recovery mission, with authorities and volunteers combing the seashore for signs of his remains. Wesley’s body was found five days later and about 30 miles north in Carova.

“We are so proud that little Wesley had fun at our park and we are grateful that his family chose to adopt a bench there in his memory,” the Town of Nags Head said in a Facebook post.

In addition to the bench honoring Wesley, there’s a new little red mailbox installed by Sue Goodrich. Anyone visiting is encouraged to leave a message of hope to brighten someone’s day.

“To the Belisles – the Outer Banks community will never forget your little fella, even though most of us never met him. We are truly sorry for your loss,” the town wrote.

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Kari Pugh is digital director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at