Local News

Family, friends mourning teens who drowned in Cape Fear River

Posted July 30
Updated July 31

— The bodies of two teenagers were pulled from the Cape Fear River near Erwin on Sunday night, and officials are trying to figure out why they drowned.

The Harnett County Fire Department and EMS responded to Cape Fear River Park on N.C. Highway 217 at about 6:45 p.m. and the bodies were pulled from the water at about 9 p.m.

Authorities identified the teens as Donovan Sutton, 15, and Steven McNeil, 16.

Authorities said the boys had been swimming with two friends when they decided to swim across the river. The two friends swam ahead and noticed Sutton and McNeil were struggling, so they went back but were pulled under when Sutton and McNeil began to panic.

The two friends were able to escape the water and call for help, authorities said.

Bodies of two teens pulled from Cape Fear River

Sheriff Wayne Coats said the area is very popular for swimming.

"I ask that you pray for these young men and their families. It's tough anytime you lose anybody, but two young men that were just in the prime of their life, it's just a tragedy," Coats said.

Family members told authorities that Sutton and McNeil were best friends.

Authorities are still trying to determine what went wrong in the water. Coats said he did not know the extent of the teens' swimming abilities, but the water is calm and anywhere from 6 feet to 10 feet deep where they were swimming.


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  • Marie Brandsdorfer Jul 31, 12:59 p.m.
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    My deepest sympathy for you all during this horrible time. We are praying for comfort.

  • Karen Orndorff Jul 31, 7:22 a.m.
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    So very sad, prayers for the families.