Local News

Falls Lake Drowning Ruled Accidental

Posted June 21, 2004

— Divers and search teams have recovered the body of a man who drowned during a Father's Day outing with his two young sons. Officials with the medical examiner's office believe the case was an accidental drowning.

Investigators said Mintt Truong, 36, was boating with his two sons, ages 5 and 7, around 1 p.m. when a gust of wind knocked him into the water just beyond Sandling Beach.

Search-and-rescue crews called off the search for the victim at 9 p.m. Sunday, marking the end of a long day for everyone. The recovery effort resumed Monday after eight hours of diving and dragging the lake Sunday. A volunteer on a jet ski used sonar to find Mintt Troung's body.

Truong was not wearing a life jacket. People in another boat tried to throw him a life jacket, but Truong was unable to reach it.

Investigators believe Truong, described as a good swimmer, drowned about 50 to 100 feet off shore in water that was 15 to 20 feet deep.

Family friend Steve Nguyen was picnicking at the park when one of Truong's sons ran up to him after the accident.

"I said: 'Oh, my God, what happened?' He just cried. He said: 'My dad fell out of the boat.'"

Truong's family spent the afternoon watching rescuers, hoping for answers.

Truong leaves behind three young children and a wife who is pregnant with their fourth child.

The timing of the tragedy -- on Father's Day -- made it worse for family, friends, and even strangers.

"We've been sitting here watching it unfold, " said Deborah Miles, who came to the beach with her husband and their young daughter. "It's disheartening to actually see those two coming up and not have their father with them."

Miles said the somber search made her appreciate her family and count her blessings.

"It makes you think what Father's Day is really about," she said. "It's not just another day."

Rangers closed the beach two hours early Sunday, so crews could extend the search area.

Nationwide, some 750 people are killed yearly in boating accidents. Seventy percent of them drowned, and some 4,000 are reported injured.

Alcohol is involved in almost 40 percent of fatal accidents.

Duke Power, meanwhile, is trying to prevent more drownings at one of its lakes. It plans to repost no-trespassing signs and ask for police to help enforce them following two drownings at a Lake Wylie cove.

The company said the cove where two people died in the past month is supposed to be off limits to the public. The North Carolina-based power company owns hundreds of miles of shoreline surrounding the lake.

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