GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Rescuers are doing everything they can to find a 14-year-old who vanished on the South Fork River on Monday. He went out swimming with a friend and didn’t make it back.
At one time there were more than 50 rescuers here searching for that boy, but with darkness that set in Tuesday night, the search has been scaled back. Conditions are so rough out on the river, even rescuers had a difficult time.
The relief that came after rescuing one teenage boy who spent the night stuck on an island in the South Fork River was short lived as rescuers quickly discovered the boy’s friend, 14-year-old Ethan Britt, was also missing.
Teams are searching the area by air, boat and on foot, encountering tough conditions including swift moving water, debris from flooding, and venomous snakes.
“Right now this is a search that is only able to be conducted by trained personnel. People that know what to do, know what to look for, know how to respond if something happens out of the ordinary,” a Gaston County official told media during an afternoon press conference.
Emergency crews say Monday evening the boys decided to go swimming in the South Fork River during the height of flooding.
Even on a normal day, neighbors say the river is tough to navigate, but for some reason, high water draws a crowd, according to officials.
“Over the years, I have seen about four water rescues like this and usually when the water gets high like that people just want to try things out,” neighbor Tim Rohm said.
The search will continue in full force on Wednesday with the use of drones, helicopters and dogs.