Local News

Crews resume search for missing man in Cape Fear River

Posted June 4, 2013
Updated June 5, 2013

— The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office resumed searching Wednesday for a man missing in the Cape Fear River in Godwin.

Dustin Turner, 18, disappeared in the water Tuesday night near 4100 Old Bluff Church Road. His uncle, Mike Leal, said Turner was swimming with friends about 6 p.m. when he got into trouble in the water.

"One of them even jumped back in the water to see if they could find him, but they couldn't," said Ronnie Turner, another of teen's uncles.

Turner was set to graduate from Cape Fear High School on Thursday, Leal said. He planned to study heating and air conditioning at Fayetteville Technical Community College in the fall. 

"He was too tickled about graduating – you know how youngins are," the teen's aunt, Regina Turner, said. "They just get set on one thing and they have to do that first and then decide what else they want to do."

Dustin Turner took every agriculture class at school. He works on cars.

He expressed interest in search and rescue, too, just like the crews on the river searching for him now.

Cape Fear Principal Lee Spruill said he felt success in Dustin Turner's handshake.

"You know, you can tell a lot about a man by his handshake," he said. "You can tell a lot about this kid with his handshake."

Family members said Turner liked to play at the river. 

"He wasn't scared of it, that's for sure. He loved it. He loved to come down here and play and cut to fool," Regina Turner said. She said he had been raised in Wade and "didn't see (anything) wrong with the river."

Steven Turner, Dustin's brother, echoed the sentiment.

"We was all pretty much raised by the river," he said. "We took him down there when he was 5 years old, and he out-fished every one of us."

The search was called off about 9 p.m. Tuesday because of darkness, but resumed Wednesday morning, deputies said.

"So there's not a very long distance of where our divers can even see, probably the distance of their hand in front of them," Cumberland County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said.

"I know the longer it takes to find them, the worse it's going to be," Regina Turner said. 

The search ended about 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tanna said crews will begin searching again about 8 a.m. Thursday.

In Harnett County on Saturday, a 19-year-old Erwin man drowned while swimming in the river.

Authorities said Justin Lee Harris was fishing with three friends near the Cape Fear River Bridge on N.C. Highway 217 when they decided to swim across the river. Harris went under and did not resurface. His body was recovered later that day.

Harris' death was the second drowning in the state last 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., authorities said. His body was found several hours later at a beach access point on the west end of Pine Knoll Shores.


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  • Scubagirl Jun 6, 2013

    glad he was found to help give his family and friends a small amount of comfort.

    For those talking about needing 'better finders', have YOU ever tried to find something in water with NO visibility? Try it sometime

  • melissaeno2 Jun 6, 2013

    My thoughts & Prayers for the Family & friends / Classmates of this child... Thankful they have recovered him before this storm sets in here so this Family can try to find Peace & start healing. Such a very sad day & I didn't even know him... So my heart is heavy & broken for all who did ... The Cape Fear is such a powerful river & has no heart ...God Bless the Search & Rescue crews as well... They have an Extremely tough job.

  • Obamacare for life Jun 6, 2013

    They just found his body. RIP.

  • Obamacare for life Jun 6, 2013

    Are people here thinking he's still alive? Are you kidding?

  • caudlekendra Jun 6, 2013

    I have faith that they are going to find him. The Cape Fear River is really long and you don't know how long it's going to be till they find him but I hope and pray they do. My love, prayer and everything else goes out for the family and friends

  • bmatt Jun 6, 2013

    Yes, there are very strong currents in the middle of the river. In addition, the levels are higher than normal due to recent rains, and the currents are even stronger than normal due to that. The river seems very peaceful and slow-moving on top, but can really be rushing underneath. Prayers for the family and the community.

  • The Oz Jun 6, 2013

    So sad. Prayers to his family and friends. Can some explain how people that are able to swim drown in rivers? Are they pulled under by a current similar to ocean currents?

  • question_why Jun 5, 2013

    Handsome young man. It is a shame.