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Two children drown in Neuse River

Posted July 16, 2012
Updated July 18, 2012

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— After a 4-hour search Monday, dive teams found the bodies of two children who drowned in the Neuse River in Raleigh, police said.

The 10-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy, who were cousins, were fishing with family members at the Old Milburnie Dam, just north of the New Bern Avenue Bridge, on Monday afternoon.

At some point, the children went out in the water, went under and never resurfaced.

“The little boy, who I believe was 7 years old, wandered out into the water, got too deep and went under," Maj. J.C. Perry. "His 10-year-old cousin went to reach for him, went to get him and she, too, was pulled under the water."

The children's bodies were found close to the bank around 8 p.m., Perry said.

The boy's father was supervising the group, which consisted of his son and three nieces – the 10-year-old, a teenage girl and a toddler. 

The father and teen girl both tried to rescue the children, but were unsuccessful. Perry said the teen was almost pulled underwater as well.

Beneath the surface, the water was moving very quickly. Two children drown in Neuse River Two children drown in Neuse River

"Four Raleigh police officers, upon arriving here, along with one Wake County deputy, jumped in the water and swam for a period of minutes and were exhausted," he said. "They said the current was pretty powerful."

A 911 call came in around 4 p.m., Perry said, and search teams from around the area were dispatched to scour the river near the intersection of Raleigh Beach and Allen roads.

They used dogs, divers and SONAR equipment to try and find the children, but murky water and strong currents made the operation difficult, said Jeff Hammerstein, district chief for Wake County Emergency Medical Services.

“Despite the rescue effort, every precaution has to be taken so that we don’t end up losing rescuers as well and adding to the tragedy," he said. "So, it’s long and drawn out. Once you get into the water, you can’t see where you’re looking.”

Hammerstein said rescuers have to remain focused on the search, even when the outcome is bleak.

"You need to find them – that has to happen – but it is absolutely heart-wrenching when you do," he said. 

The Apex Fire Department, Wake County Sheriff's Office, Raleigh Fire Department, Rolesville Fire Department, Wake County EMS, Eastern Wake EMS and New Hope Fire Department assisted Raleigh police with the search.

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  • passport423 Jul 17, 2012

    I am so sorry for this family. What a tragedy.

    @alacarteautomotive - Adults are simply stronger than children. Stronger swimmers can last longer in strong currents than weaker swimmers. We don't know yet whether or not the children could swim and it doesn't really matter at this point. They are gone and a family is devastated.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jul 17, 2012

    alacarteautomotive "They said the current was pretty powerful." All the more reason my post makes sense. TEACH CHILDREN TO SWIM.

    So you're comparing an adult deputy who's trained to swim and came prepared and still admitted the current was "pretty powerful" to a 7 and 10 year old swimming ability? And I like how you acknowledged the fact this turned into a life or death situation, yet failed to acknowledge that even the average adult would panic, but you expect a 7 year old to stay calm? You guys clearly have no experience IN WATER.

  • promethazine codeine lover Jul 17, 2012

    Lets all say a prayer for them...

    "Du ma" which translate to is similar to saying "too soon, too fast"

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jul 17, 2012

    alacarteautomotive I have swam my whole life, and I have never in any river been "pulled under". Knocked off my feet yes, but not "pulled under".....

    That's funny I've been swimming since 3 and live on a lakefront, if you think a river can't pull you under then you are absolutely crazy. Rivers often times have downdrifts so matter how great of a swimmer you THINK you are it will pull you under with the right current. The smart thing to do is always wear life jackets, and carry long durable cords for back up.

  • promethazine codeine lover Jul 17, 2012

    How sad. - YOLO

  • working for deadbeats Jul 17, 2012

    Great job to the cops who tried so hard. They do such great acts of heroism despite the fact people hate them ( as shown on here so often).

  • warbirdlover Jul 17, 2012

    This is so tragic. If you should fall into a river or get caught in a rip current in the ocean, don't fight it. It will eventually release you. If you fight it, it will exhaust you and you will drown.

  • jgilchr Jul 17, 2012

    I think kids should wear life vests in these types of situations. This is truly tragic and there won't much that can take the pain away from the family.

  • freweeln Jul 17, 2012

    I've ridden my bike down to this area several times this spring and summer... there are always families hanging out there. It's hot, there are not many places to cool off if you do not have access to a pool. Water is always inviting. I've stood on the bridge that spans that river near the dam and watched parents in the water with kids. It is horrible and tragic and unfortunately, bound to happen in these areas where water rushes around rocks and creates turbulence. Also, I suspect these folks are unaware of the schedule of "releases" that rise the water levels.

  • Killian Jul 17, 2012

    How heartbreaking for this family. I'm so sorry for their loss.

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