ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) — The summer beach season is over, and it didn't end too soon for public safety officials who say they saw an increase in the number of tourist deaths along Alabama's coast this year.
Five people drowned on the Alabama coast this summer, the Baldwin County coroner's office said, and three more died in falls off condominium towers.
The number wasn't large compared with the millions of people who visited the state's prime beaches from Memorial Day through Labor Day, yet it was unusual enough to get authorities' attention.
Police Chief Billy Wilkins of Orange Beach, where two Louisiana tourists were killed after plunging off condominium buildings, said summer 2013 will stand out for the number of fatalities.
"It's been a problem this year," he said.
In Gulf Shores, safety officials had to briefly close the beaches in mid-June after four tourists from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana died in rip currents following a run of bad weather.
"I don't remember that happening before," said Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city. "We were spending so much time in the water trying to save people rather trying to keep them safe."
The coroner's office said the number of tourist deaths seemed slightly higher this year than most, but historical statistics weren't immediately available.
Problems began in June when four men died the surf just off the coast in Gulf Shores. Two of the victims drowned within just a few miles of each other on the same day.
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