Hope Mills, N.C. — Cumberland County authorities searched along the banks and in rushing water Thursday morning for a 17-year-old swimmer who went missing Wednesday afternoon in Rockfish Creek.
Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, said Cameron Draughon, of Hope Mills, was swimming with two other people in the creek, off Rockfish and Muscat roads.
Someone on the bank tossed pizza at the swimmers about 4:30 p.m. Draughon dropped a slice in the water, went under to retrieve it and did not resurface.
Search crews were forced to halt their efforts shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday because of darkness and resumed Thursday morning what Tanna called a recovery mission.
"It just breaks my heart to watch," she said. "I hope that we have good news for this family, but as time goes on, that becomes less likely."
Three divers and a person operating sonar were in the water Thursday morning, Tanna said, as crews also searched along the creek banks. Complicating the search were undercurrents and a creek swollen by recent heavy rain.
Meanwhile, family and friends, who did not want to talk to the media, gathered at the creek waiting for news.
"It hurts me right now to think that he's down there somewhere," said Richard Gee, who helped members of Draughon's family search for him.
"They were just hollering his name, 'Cameron, Cameron, Cameron,'" Gee said. "That's all we could do. They were crying. It was tough "
Draughon is a rising senior at Gray's Creek High School.
"I know he’s somewhere out there,” said classmate Thomas Skora, who joined others at the creek bank. “I’m just trying to keep hope and pray. It’s all you can do.”
“It’s very shocking," another classmate, Dennis Cromartie, said. "It was really a surprise. It’s sad and scary, too.”
The water search is the second this month for Cumberland County authorities.
On June 6, crews found the body of 18-year-old Dustin Turner who, two days earlier, went under water in the Cape Fear River and never resurfaced.
His body was recovered three hours before he was set to graduate from Cape Fear High School.