Search teams continued efforts for a third day Wednesday to find a man who has been missing since apparently falling off a boat Sunday night on Lake Norman near Cornelius.
Units from the Cornelius and Denver fire departments were joined by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Lake Patrol in covering the area where the man was last seen.
Friends say the missing man is Matthew Bell, 32, an engineer who moved to Charlotte several years ago from Maryland. Those friends say Bells family members are now in the Charlotte area while the search continues.
On Tuesday, authorities identified the boater who drowned Saturday in the northern part of the lake as Christian Geovani Renderos Helena, of Uniondale, N.Y. Officer Justin Stout of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said Helena and five friends were partying on a 19-foot boat in Davidson Cove.
Helena jumped off the boat for a swim, then was helped aboard by his friends, Stout said. On his second jump, Helena drifted too far from his friends to reach him with ropes they had tossed toward him. One of those ropes was weighted with a full beer bottle, Stout added.
Helena, who was in the area to visit family, drowned near the D-11 channel marker. His body was recovered about 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Stout said everyone on the boat was intoxicated, and two men were cited for operating while impaired. He said the boat had lifejackets, but Helena wasnt wearing one.
Farther south, crews continued looking Wednesday for the man who fell off the boat Sunday night.
Brian Stewart, who said he is a good friend of the missing boater, said Bell is a strong swimmer who has worked on the boat he was riding.
As for him going overboard, I dont know why, Stewart said. He fell off one of the safest boats in the world.
Cornelius Fire Chief Jim Barbee said the mans disappearance appeared to be an accident. He apparently fell off.
After being notified that a man had gone overboard, the boats operator backed up, tried to find him and marked the spot with a buoy, Barbee said. The spot, he said, is in the old river bed, where the lake is about 80 to 100 feet deep.
Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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