Northern Virginia woman dies in Labor Day boating incident along the Outer Banks

The incident took place in Hatteras Inlet near the ferry terminal on the Ocracoke side. [file photo courtesy NPS]

A Northern Virginia woman died Monday afternoon after the boat she was riding in struck a sandbar in Hatteras Inlet.

The incident happened around 2 p.m. Monday near the ferry dock on the north end of Ocracoke Island, according to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Law Enforcement Sgt. John Beardsley.

The 21-foot Carolina Skiff rented vessel from Hatteras Parasail was traveling southwest across Hatteras Inlet, which is difficult to navigate due to constant movement of sand that forms shoals throughout the body of water that connects the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Ocean.

When the boat struck one of the shoals, the woman was thrown into the water and hit by the vessel. Brandi A. Lash, 29, of Round Hill, Virginia, died from her injuries after she was recovered from the water.

Inexperience and hazardous waters are among the factors in the incident that remains under investigation by N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Law Enforcement, Beardsley said.

Along with N.C. Wildlife officers, the National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Hyde County Sheriffs Office responded to the incident.

The inlet has suffered constant shoaling issues for the last two decades, exacerbated by hurricane Isabel and Irene, and constant erosion of over a half-mile of the southern tip of Hatteras Island.

Charter boat captains, commercial fishermen, local residents, along with local and state leaders, have pleaded with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dedicate more efforts to keeping the channels open.

They have also asked members of Congress for decades to stop slashing funding for the Corps’ dredging operations in shallow draft inlets like Hatteras Inlet.

State and county funds have been allocated to pay for projects, but red tape at the federal level and environmental regulations, have allowed only limited sand clearing to take place and have forced projects to be delayed until permitting hurdles are cleared.

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