Victim's friend: 'Sand was pulling our feet down'
Posted July 11, 2012
Updated July 12, 2012
Goldsboro, N.C. — The friend of a boy who drowned Sunday at a private lake in Goldsboro recounted his experience Wednesday – evidence the friend's mother says proves the swimming area is unsafe.
Nigel Thompson, 15, said he and Jaimel Cooper, 14, were walking in knee-high water at Busco Beach when they suddenly felt like they were being sucked into the sand.
"It was pulling our feet down as we were trying to get out of it," Thompson said.
The teen said that both he and Cooper can swim but they were not strong enough to escape. A witness was able to rescue Thompson, but Cooper did not survive.
Since 2000, five people have drowned at Busco Beach, including one man, who divers say appeared as if he were stuck in the sand. Jack Rose Bennett, the founder of Busco Beach, is not the current owner, but said the swimming area has been checked and is safe.
"We graded and sloped those shores beautifully to perfection," Bennett said. "Then we allowed the swimmers to come."
However, Corey Rohwer, the man who rescued Thompson, said the teens were in an area where the water got deeper quickly.
"In that certain spot, there's also a small, little shelf that's out there," Rohwer said.
Thompson's mother, Christina Barnes, has hired a lawyer. Although signs at Busco Beach state "swim at your own risk," Barnes does not believe the swimming area is safe and plans to take action.
"Something has to be done," Barnes said. "(Cooper) means a lot to me. He's like part of my family and I've never even met him."
Cooper's family has set up the Jamiel Cooper Memorial Fund to help pay for expenses related to his funeral.
Donations can be made through Fort Sill National Bank.