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Overland Park man drowns in rip current off the Alabama coast

Updated: 2013-06-11T03:07:44Z

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

An Overland Park man drowned Sunday in rip currents in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Alabama.

John Hogue, 51, was one of three swimmers caught in the powerful undertow off the Fort Morgan peninsula near Gulf Shores, Ala.

The bodies of Hogue and a man from Bossier City, La., were recovered. Searchers were looking for a third man from Kentucky who has not been seen since going under.

At least five people have drowned since Sunday along the beaches of Alabama and the Florida panhandle, according to the news website AL.com. The National Weather Service said the waters off Gulf Shores were closed Monday because of dangerous rip currents.

Hogue was pulled from the surf unconscious and pronounced dead about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Hogue, his wife, Pam, and their two children were vacationing in Alabama, said longtime friend Tim Doughty of Shawnee, who spoke with the family Monday.

Hogue was an I.T. project manager contractor at Sprint Nextel Corp., according to the social networking site LinkedIn.

Doughty said he and Hogue grew up together at the Drumm Farm Center for Children in Independence. Hogue graduated from Truman High School in 1982, attended the University of Missouri and graduated from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. Doughty said Hogue had two master’s degrees.

“John is a self-made man,” said Doughty. “From a kid who had nothing, he put himself through school and he built up a family with his wife and his two kids. He would dote on his children. He enjoyed scouting with his son and enjoyed watching his daughter play sports.”

The two deaths and the disappearance Sunday occurred within a few miles of one another.

Baldwin County Coroner Stanley Vinson said Matthew Hattaway, 25, of Bossier City, La., was pronounced dead about 3 p.m. Sunday. A relative spotted him floating in the surf. Vinson said the Kentucky man disappeared around the same time.

Authorities said all three men were swimming on Fort Morgan peninsula when they got into trouble.

“The waves didn’t appear all that large, but the rip currents were really bad,” said Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city of Gulf Shores.

Vinson said vacationers sometime fail to recognize the danger of rip currents, which can pull swimmers underwater and out to sea even when the water appears relatively calm on the surface.

“You don’t see many locals out there swimming when it’s like that,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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