Local News

Friends tried to save teen who drowned in Harnett pond

Posted May 25, 2015
Updated May 26, 2015

— A teen drowned Monday evening while swimming in a pond near Lillington, authorities said.

Seven friends were swimming to an island in the pond on Flyway Drive, off U.S. Highway 421 west of Lillington, when one of them started having trouble and went underwater.

Josh Ferraro, 16, said he tried to save his friend.

"I was pulling him up, and I actually grabbed him by his head to pull him up. When he went back down, I started grabbing him again, and he pulled me down with him," Ferraro said, noting that he had to let go at that point. "It was that quick."

Friends identified the dead teen as 18-year old Justice Clark, a senior at Harnett Central High School.

The school's student government issued the following tweet late Monday: "Harnett Central lost a remarkable student. Please keep the Clark Family in your prayers."

Ferraro said he thinks Clark panicked in the water.

"It was horrible. I hate it," he said. "I tried my best to save him."

Rescuers were able to recover the body quickly because Ferraro and others pointed them to the exact spot where their friend went underwater.

Ferraro said Clark's death still hasn't set in for him and his friends.

"We will make it through, but it's rough. It's rough," he said.

Another Harnett Central High student drowned in the same pond five years ago.


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  • Jessica Lee Weaver May 26, 2015
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    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the young man. Such a terrible accident.

    But regardless or not as to signs posted, every child should be taught not to trespass on property that is not theirs, or for which they do not have permission by the landowner to be on. This is the case for, swimming, riding bikes, horses, ATVs, or even walking. People do not have the right to just go where ever there little hearts desires.

    I pray the landowner isn't held responsible for poor judgement on the teens part. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more popular to sue someone for your own stupid decisions.

  • Fred Garner May 26, 2015
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    So unfortunate when a young person is taken so early in life. My prayers and condolences to the family and friends.

  • Fred Garner May 26, 2015
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    [quote=14669739]Post by Adul Siler[/quote

    Really? Why don't you suggest everyone fill in the farm ponds in Harnett County so there's no irrigation for the crops. Maybe that will help.

  • Edward Anderson May 26, 2015
    user avatar

    Before reading any comments, my thought process was about a scary "haunted" swimming pool where the deaths go back years and years and years and this is just the latest victim.

    After reading some of these asinine comments, my thought process is centered on an overbearing NANNY STATE trying to control EVERY LAST MOVEMENT! Get over yourselves. Kids go swimming. In fact, they *SHOULD* go swimming it's healthy exercise! Marking a pond off-limits because somebody drowned is insane! Should we ban bathtubs because people can drown in them? What about buckets or glasses of water?

    I hate that this kid died, it's an absolute tragedy, and I'm praying for everyone who knew him but m,ost of all I'm praying for my fellow Americans who have abrogated their personal responsibility in favor of trying to make the world safe. It's not.

  • Lightfoot Williams May 26, 2015
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    That's a shame. From googlemaps, That actually looks like a neat swimming hole. Growing up, I went swimming in all kinds of scary places. Places that you couldn't pay me to swim in today. Of course, those places didn't have signs or anything posted, but that didn't matter. Had something happened to me, it would have been MY fault. Not the landowner.

  • Ileana Bryan May 26, 2015
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    This is a sad story and my heart breaks for the parents/family for their loss and for the friends who tried to help.

    I worked for a law firm that had to investigate the other teen death at that pond 5 years ago. My job was to interview the parents, the land owners, and hire private investigators. I would say speaking to the mother was the hardest thing I ever had to do during that investigation. Although I choose not to elaborate any other details about that case, I can say there were no signs posted then (no swimming) and I bet there aren't any now. But, people will do what they want, signs or not, at their own risk. It's just especially difficult when it ends this way. :(

  • Kristi Bobbitt Coley May 26, 2015
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    Aren't there small sink holes and things of that nature?

  • Donald Holder May 26, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    It's not the pond's fault the kid drowned. What would you like to be done?

  • Adul Siler May 26, 2015
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    Five people died from airbags and they recall millions of airbags. Multiple drownings happen in harnett county and nothing is being done to prevent the drownings. Kinda odd

  • Aanritsen Deur May 25, 2015
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    Oh God, how sad. Thoughts going out to his friends and family. Maybe time to close that pond to swimmers. Two deaths are enough, aren't they?