Local News

Erwin man drowns in Cape Fear River

Posted June 3, 2013

A 19-year-old Erwin man drowned Saturday while swimming in the Cape Fear River, Harnett County sheriff’s deputies said Monday.

Justin Lee Harris, of the 3100 block of Beaver Dam Road in Erwin, was fishing Saturday afternoon with three friends near the Cape Fear River Bridge on N.C. Highway 217. The friends were swimming across the river when Harris went under and did not resurface.

Deputies said friends tried to search for Harris but could not find him and called authorities. His body was recovered a short time later.

The drowning was the second the state over the weekend.

A 19-year-old East Carolina University student died Sunday after being pulled underwater while swimming in Pine Knoll Shores.

Braxton Horton, of Raleigh, got caught in a rip current and drowned shortly after 4:30 p.m., said the Carteret County town's mayor, Ken Jones.

His body was found around 7 p.m. at a beach access point on the west end of Pine Knoll Shores, Jones said.

Horton was working at Camp Sea Gull, a YMCA sailing camp for boys in the Pamlico County town of Arapahoe, for the summer. He had been living at the coast for about a week.

Horton was a 2012 graduate of Athens Drive High School, which is holding a vigil for him at 8 p.m. Monday at the school's football stadium.


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  • leo-nc Jun 3, 2013

    The Cape Fear is a dangerous river and should be treated with respect. I am sorry for the family of this young man who lost his life way too soon.

  • lisa4 Jun 3, 2013

    Prayers for both families.

  • Fireflies Rock Jun 3, 2013

    I'm so sad for these two young men and their families. Out having good fun when tragedy strikes.

  • justdontgetit Jun 3, 2013

    These are both tragic incidents and I feel for both of their families! I dont know much about the coastal areas but the Cape Fear River between Lillington and Erwin is VERY DANGEROUS with all the recent rains the river is high and moving very fast with currents that you cannot manuver in a boat much less swimming. I do know that for a fact there have been at least 5 water rescues in the Erwin NC-217 area in the past 2 weeks... unfortunately this last one cost this young man his life. I do wish people would take the warnings that have been given about the river and wait for it to go down some so that this doesnt happen to someone else!