A 17-year-old Attleboro boy who drowned while on vacation with his family in North Carolina was “that kid that everyone loves,” according to his aunt.
Nicholas Vero died Saturday when he got caught in a rip current on the last day of his annual family vacation to the Outer Banks, his aunt, Alicia Cabral, told the Globe in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Cabral was not with her family when Vero died but recalled the incident based on what her sister, Vero’s mother, told her.
“He decided he wanted to go into the water for 10 more minutes,” Cabral said. “He was very insistent, so my sister agreed.”
Vero was cooling off in waist-deep water, his family packing their things several feet away after a day spent at the beach, when a set of rough waves rolled into the coast, Cabral said.
“A bunch of waves came in and pulled him out,” she said. “My sister tried to get in . . . and the rest of the family rushed to get to him.”
Their efforts were futile, Cabral said. The current was too strong, and Vero’s family couldn’t get to him successfully without sacrificing their own lives.
Some were injured in the attempt, Cabral said.
Vero’s great-grandmother was inside the beachfront house and saw the scene quickly unfolding from the window, Cabral said. Vero’s younger brother was also inside, engrossed in a video game.
“It’s lucky he was. Otherwise, he would have to live with the memory of his big brother drowning,” Cabral said.
Vero was close with his little brother, Cabral said.
When the two weren’t playing video games, Vero was running on the Attleboro High School track team.
“Nick was a valuable member of our track team as well as the Senior Class,” Attleboro High Principal Bill Runey wrote in a post on the school’s Facebook page Sunday. “His positive outlook on life endeared him to many students and staff in our Blue Pride Community.”
Cabral said her nephew was also fond of his younger cousins and always set aside time to play outside with them when they came to visit, chasing them around the yard and tossing them in the air.
“I have a lifetime of memories of him,” she said.
Cabral also recalled Vero’s fondness for animals and said although the high school senior did not know what he wanted to study in college, his family always had an inkling about what he would do with his life.
“We always thought he was going to be a vet,” she said. “He wanted to save all the animals.”
Vero used to chase down runaway dogs in his neighborhood and hold on to them until their owners returned, Cabral said. He tried to save crabs from hungry fishermen, too, returning them to the water instead of to their captors when he saw them scramble away on the beach.
Cabral said Vero’s family knows what happened is a tragic accident, and they hope others can learn from their misfortune.
“The water is always unsafe. It doesn’t matter if it’s rough or calm,” she firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.