DENVER Divers and rescue teams found the body of a missing boater on Lake Norman Monday night, but still had not found another man who disappeared on a different part of the lake over the Labor Day weekend.
Crews searched Sunday for a 32-year-old man last seen when he jumped off a boat Saturday afternoon in the northern part of the lake.
Around 7:40 p.m. Monday, rescue crews found his body near the D-11 channel marker. Authorities said the search was hampered because they got conflicting information from other people on the boat.
Divers searched until the sun went down Sunday, then suspended their efforts.
Neighbor Skip Grimes told WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner, that a boat “came racing in rather dramatically to our piers and the guys were very upset.” Grimes said the men told him someone “had jumped off the boat and had not resurfaced.”
After spending 14 hours looking for the man, the search was called off late Sunday.
Search to resume Tuesday
Another boater was reported missing near Cornelius around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses said he apparently fell off a boat, went under the water and wasn’t seen again. Divers continued their search for him Monday.
“Those guys are out there trying to come up with a legitimate target,” Cornelius Fire Chief Jim Barbee said late Monday afternoon at Beatty’s Ford Park on the Lincoln County side of the lake. “It could be a long-term process, unfortunately.”
A team searched until about 7 p.m. Monday, and Barbee said the search would resume about 9 a.m. Tuesday.
The equipment used to find missing people is very sensitive to movement, Barbee said. “All the boat traffic didn’t help matters today,” he said Monday, when many people were out on the lake celebrating Labor Day. “It was pretty rough.”
Cornelius fire and rescue officials were called about 10:30 p.m. Sunday and told a man had fallen into the water near the mouth of Davidson Creek.
Crews spent several hours searching late Sunday and early Monday then resumed the search after daybreak Monday.
The base of operations was moved from the Cornelius side of the lake to Lincoln County to avoid the congestion from the large number of holiday boaters launching from Mecklenburg piers.
Brian Stewart, who said he is a good friend of the missing boater, stood at Beatty’s Ford Park on Monday afternoon looking out over the lake waters as boats from the Charlotte, Cornelius and Denver fire departments dragged sonar units in the water in search of the man.
Stewart said he was holding out hope for his friend.
“I‘m hoping his little country butt is up under one of those docks, alive,” he said.
Stewart said he got a call about 3 a.m. Monday from the boat’s owner, telling him of the incident. He said the missing man is a strong swimmer who has worked on the boat he was riding Sunday night.
“As for him going overboard, I don’t know why,” Stewart said. “He fell off one of the safest boats in the world.”
Stewart said his 33-year-old friend lives in Charlotte and works as an engineer for a company that designs roads.
Barbee said the man’s disappearance “appeared to be an accident. He apparently fell off.”
After being notified that a man had gone overboard, the boat’s operator backed up, tried to find him and marked the spot with a buoy, Barbee said. The spot, he said, is in the old riverbed, where the lake is about 80 to 100 feet deep.
Barbee said the search would continue until dark Monday then possibly resume Tuesday if needed.
Staff writers Ames Alexander, Steve Lyttle, Lindsay Ruebens, Elisabeth Arriero and WCNC-TV contributed
Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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