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Victim's friend: 'Sand was pulling our feet down'

Posted July 11, 2012
Updated July 12, 2012

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— 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.

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  • IndependentAmerican Jul 20, 2012

    Another frivolous lawsuit. Plan for more insurance rate increases. Before y'all blast me for calling it frivolous, think about this: it's water, humans cannot breath under water, if one goes into water, ther is a risk of having your head under water too long and drowning. So it's the lake owner's fault? Ever hear of people drowning in a bathtub? What, should you be able sue Kohler because your fancy whirlpool tub made you fall over face first and drown. It's their fault right?

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jul 20, 2012

    "If this was a white family, noone would care about a potential law suit, pathetic." jacoadams73

    Your statement is pathetic. There are plenty of us out here who do not think that way. I'm not saying that is the case here either. How do you know what is in other's heads and hearts? It's statements like that that help to keep us divided, congrats on being a part of the problem.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jul 20, 2012

    I've been in soft sand like that and it is scary to feel yourself sinking into the water! It's extremely difficult to get out. I wonder, if it's just a section of the lake that has this soft sand, if it can be roped off...

  • dldobbins Jul 18, 2012

    Five people have drowned. One who almost drowned reported that it felt like the sand was pulling him down. I would seem that it would behoove the owners to have their story checked out. Five people drowning, one body recovered was reported to be stuck in the sand by divers, is a good reason to investigate the claim to me, before other swimmers lose their lives.

  • SueInNC Jul 17, 2012

    That's tragic and it sounds like it's unsafe - parents should take heed and not let their kids go there anymore.

  • jacoadams73 Jul 17, 2012

    If this was a white family, noone would care about a potential law suit, pathetic.

  • Desiderata Jul 17, 2012

    Unless it has a cement bottom,you can't control the ground under the water. Mother can hire a lawyer, but wants others to help shell out money for funeral expenses..not the priorities I would have.

  • streetglide Jul 17, 2012

    swim at your own risk! We all do things that can be dangerous, but that is what life is about, taking chances than form our memories,and our personality. Some risks are more dangerous than others. Maybe a life guard on duty, and charge to swim?? Liability insurance, etc.. I would just post a sign saying "SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK"!! and he did.

  • redsox Jul 16, 2012

    Sounds like quicksand!!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 16, 2012

    If there's mud beneath the sand in that lake, anything can happen. Use to swim in lakes like that as a teen, and we DID sink and need help from time to time.

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