Authorities say a Pennsylvania man who drowned while swimming off the New Jersey coast last weekend apparently was trying to help two children who became distressed, possibly by a rip current. 

Wildwood police say the children were playing on a sandbar before they got pulled into deeper water early Sunday afternoon.

Authorities have said lifeguards went into the water to rescue several swimmers in distress. But once back on shore they discovered that 35-year-old Hany Mohamed, of Middletown, Pennsylvania, was missing.

That sparked a search and rescue effort by police, fire, and beach patrol units from Wildwood, North Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest. The New Jersey State Police Marine Unit and the United States Coast Guard also joined the search. 

Surfers found Mohamed about two hours later in waters off nearby Wildwood Crest. Lifeguards entered the water, retrieved him, and began lifesaving measures until the arrival of emergency medical personnel. 

Mohamed was taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead there a short time later.

Rip currents were classified as "low risk" last Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. That risk level implies that while wind and wave conditions are not expected to support the development of enhanced rip currents, they are always possible, especially near jetties and other structures.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.