Army Staff Sgt. Calvin LeBlanc, 30, of Minot, N.D., disappeared about 5:15 p.m. and Glynn County got the call a few minutes later, said Capt. Jay Wiggins, director of Glynn County Emergency Management Agency.
LeBlanc got in trouble about 200 yards north of the crossover at the former U.S. Coast Guard station at East Beach, Wiggins said.
“There were some kids in distress trying to get back from the sand bar and he was trying to help them,’’ Wiggins said.
Wiggins said the children were LeBlanc’s stepchildren and that another man who went to help survived.
It is the most heavily used beach access point on the island and is extremely crowded on weekends.
The combination of the full moon’s high tide and some wind made conditions very treacherous Sunday, Wiggins said.
“I was surprised how choppy it was when I got here,’’ he said.
When the tide is low, a spit of sand is exposed that reaches are to the northeast and people often have to race the incoming tide to get back to the beach.
The sandbar is beyond the area where Glynn County lifeguards are on duty and their shift ends at 4 p.m.
The Coast Guard, the EMA’s volunteer Search and Recovery Unit and Department of Natural Resources were walking the beach, criss-crossing the area in boats or flying overhead depending on tide conditions, Wiggins said.
A 1:50 p.m. news release from the Coast Guard said the search effort has been suspended after five searches were conducted, covering 26 miles in about 18 hours. Crews from Glynn County law enforcement and DNR are still at the scene.