VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A woman died after a lifeguard stand fell on top of her at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
The Virginia Beach Police Department says officers responded to 21st Street on the beach around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday and pronounced the victim, 28-year-old Chelsea Moles, dead at the scene.
Investigators deemed this incident as an accidental death. Moles was believed to be sleeping on top of the stand when another individual tied a hammock to the stand, causing the stand to topple over on top of Moles, officials said.
WAVY spoke with Chelsea’s boyfriend Frank, who shared this picture of her.
Frank said, “She was like very outgoing and she was like, very like compassionate and courteous and like cared about people.”
He told us he could not understand how a stand weighing several hundred pounds toppled.
Police have not specifically yet answered that question, though Frank did hear something that could indicate Moles became trapped and possibly suffocated.
“I heard that the x’s were on her legs and her head was buried in the sand,” Frank told WAVY.
Moles were known to be unsheltered. No charges have been released. The Virginia Beach Police Department is the lead on this investigation.
WAVY reached out to city officials for comment regarding this tragic incident.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer provided this statement:
The passing of Chelsea Moles is absolutely disheartening. The City of Virginia Beach takes homelessness seriously. Our staff are proactive in this approach, connecting with unsheltered individuals where they are in the community and not waiting for them to seek us out. This tragic incident highlights the importance of that work, and the steadfast need to continue serving our most vulnerable populations.Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer.
Ms. Moles was known to the Homeless Outreach Team for years. Staff members had formed a relationship with her, according to the city, and they are deeply saddened by her passing.
“It’s important to note that Outreach’s role is not to control unsheltered individuals’ behaviors. While resources are offered to them, staff cannot compel anyone to engage with our programs, or accept shelter or housing,” said Ruth Hill, Director of Housing & Neighborhood Preservation.
Todd Walker, Ececutive Director of the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, works with the homeless team. He told WAVY he did not recognize Moles’ name but says she very well could have joined them for a meal. They serve more than 100 a night just a mile from the oceanfront.“So once they come its almost like dangling a carrot we have the food we want to love on you but once you come here we can talk to you about other services you can access,” Walker said.
Moles’ death underscores the importance of their work.
Click here for housing and homelessness resources provided by the city. There is also a Regional Housing Crisis Hotline you can call if you are homeless or at risk of losing your housing. That number is 757-227-5932. It is open to callers from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You can reach the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center here.