A Labor Day weekend afternoon of tubing ended tragically when a 10-year-old Union County girl was killed in an accident involving a personal watercraft.
Alexandra Morgan Langley of Indian Trail was tubing with her family in the Intracoastal Waterway Saturday near Surf City, 20 miles south of Jacksonville. The accident occurred as Alex and her 6-year-old brother, Will, were riding an inner tube towed by a Yamaha WaveRaider piloted by her father, Matt Langley, said Officer Doug Jones of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which investigates boating accidents.
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The craft, going around 20 mph, created a wake that pushed the tube off to the side and toward a channel marker, a wooden post sticking out of the water, Jones said. The tube struck the marker, killing Alex instantly. Her brother was not injured.
Alex had transferred this year to Sardis Elementary, along with Will and her 8-year-old brother Carl, Union County Public Schools spokeswoman Luan Ingram said. Alex had just started the 5th grade.
Her 4th grade teacher at Hemby Bridge Elementary, Paul Rybos, remembered Alex as a popular, outgoing student whose love of cheese led to Rybos nicknaming her “Little Cheese.” She returned the favor, calling him “Big Cheese.”
“No matter what the question was, Alex had her hand up,” Rybos said. “She wanted to be a part of what was going on. …. She was always trying to contribute something.”
The Onslow County district attorney will not file charges in the accident, Jones said. Matt Langley was relatively inexperienced piloting the watercraft, Jone said. But North Carolina does not require certification for people over age 16 to operate personal watercraft. The watercraft was equipped with rearview mirrors and so was not required to have a second person in the seat observing the children being towed.
Though not required, the N.C. Wildlife Commission offers free safety classes on recreational boating, Jones said. For more information, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
Visitation will be held at 6 p.m. at Southbrook Community Church in Weddington, with services to follow at 7:30 p.m.