San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Mother of two drowns on Pacific coast

A United States citizen swimming with her 6-year-old child at Playa Avellanas on the Pacific coast in the northwestern province of Guanacaste drowned after being swept out to sea by an ocean current, officials said.

Rhiannon Joy Hull, 33, was swimming with her child last Friday when she was caught by a current and carried away, said Monica Chavarría, a spokeswoman for the Judicial Investigation Police. Swimmers nearby saw that Hull was in trouble and responded, Chavarría said. The swimmers rescued the child, but they could not reach Hull. Her body was recovered Sunday by the Costa Rican Coast Guard approximately two miles out to sea off of Playa Flamingo, north of Playa Avellanas.

Hull’s children are with their father, Norman Hull, Chavarría said.

Ancel Mitchell, administrator of The Sea Heart School in Playa Negra, also in Guanacaste, said Hull moved to Costa Rica in September of this year with her two children to teach at a private kindergarten in Playa Avellanas. Mitchell, who last spoke with Hull on Oct. 17, said she was enjoying her work and living with her children in Costa Rica.

“Rhiannon seemed a very motivated, capable, enthusiastic and clear young woman.” Mitchell said. “In our conversations she was bubbly, open, engaged and generally eager to take on the world and make it better.”

Mitchell said when they last spoke Hull was planning to visit the school to share teaching resources and ideas.

“She was very much loving her work with the children and was very enthusiastic about caring for their creativity and imagination,” Mitchell said. “She had a great relationship with her own children and put them first.”

According to the Red Cross of Costa Rica, 92 drownings have occurred in Costa Rica so far in 2011. That represents a 21 percent increase from the 76 drownings that happened in 2010 with still almost two months left to go in the year.

Freddy Román, a spokesman for the Red Cross, said most drownings happen because swimmers haven’t adequately informed themselves about water conditions where they are swimming. Sudden drop offs in depth and strong currents both in rivers and along Costa Rica’s beaches can take even strong swimmers by surprise, Román said. He urges swimmers to know as much as possible about the area they’ll be swimming in before going into the water.

Before moving to Costa Rica Hull lived in the San Francisco Bay area with her family and maintained a blog dedicated to “cost-effective green parenting.” In her first post from October 2007, Hull described herself as an “Eco-mama, raising my two little boys. … My goal is to get the word out to Moms across America that being green and conscious is easy, fun and can be affordable.”

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