Local News

Four Boaters Die, Two Survive, After Boat Overturns

Posted March 19, 2006

— In the chilly, choppy waters off the coast Oak Island, searchers early Thursday morning found tragic proof of a fishing trip gone horribly wrong.

Investigators say a group of six ventured out on an 18-foot boat that capsized Wednesday. At some point, the men decided to swim ashore, but only two survived the 58-degree water long enough to reach land. When they did, they called 911.

After an all-night search by boat, plane, and helicopter, the Coast Guard discovered the bodies of the four men, including former Leesville Road High School students Archie McFadyen and Michael Shope.

Shope, 21, played soccer at Leesville High, where people still remember his plays on the field. He was good enough to earn a scholarship to attend Lees-McRae College.

Shope attended Lees McRae College along with 20-year-old McFadyen. The two friends were both volunteer firefighters in Banner Elk.

Jen Bronson was close with Michael Shope. She somehow mustered the strength to play her game on Thursday. But afterwards, the pain overwhelmed her.

"He was a really great person," said Bronson. "(He) always had a joke, made people laugh, had a great personality, fun to be around."

The Coast Guard said three of the four men who died were wearing life jackets. But with 1- to 2-foot seas, a small-craft advisory was in effect at the time the boat capsized.

The college will hold a prayer service on Monday at 7 p.m. in Evans Auditorium in the Cannon Student Center for the students killed in the accident.

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