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Group rescued in storm on Lake Wylie

The rescue of 18 people trapped on a small piece of land during a strong thunderstorm Thursday afternoon appeared to be the only major Independence Day incident on lakes in the Charlotte region.

Law enforcement personnel had stepped-up patrols for the holiday on area lakes. The group, most of whom appeared to be in their late teens and 20s, needed help in the northern part of Lake Wylie when a storm struck the area shortly after 4 p.m. No serious injuries were reported.

The 18 were on a sandbar near Girl Scout Road, a popular hang-out for lake-goers. Strong thunderstorms were in the forecast, but several hours of sunny weather had preceded the incident.

Charlotte fire Capt. Rob Brisley said the storm came up suddenly, preventing the people from getting back to their boats. One woman in the group told authorities that large waves developed suddenly.

Charlotte Fire Department Boat 38 was on patrol at the time, spotted the group, and got eight people to safety. Firefighters dove into the water to help rescue people. Other boats from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, the N.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the New Hope Fire Department also arrived, getting the others off the sandbar and taking them to the Buster Boyd Bridge.

One woman was taken to Piedmont Regional Medical Center for treatment, but Brisley said there were no serious injuries.

None of the 18 was wearing a life jacket, authorities said.

There were no other reports Friday morning of significant problems on lakes in the Charlotte region. Storms swept across the lakes several times during the day.

Authorities in Iredell and Stanly counties reported officers made several arrests of boats for violations such as alcohol use and life jacket use violations. The N.C. Department of Public Safety said local, county and state agents were planning a crackdown this weekend on unsafe boating practices.

Officials did not have information Friday morning on the number of arrests and citations.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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