Goldsboro, N.C. — A 14-year-old Raleigh boy drowned Sunday while swimming with friends at a private recreational area near Goldsboro, where two other people have drowned in the past two years, and the teen's grieving mother says she wants answers.
Witnesses called authorities after seeing three people struggling in the water at Busco Beach, 1243 Bryan Blvd., around 6:45 p.m. Sunday, said Maj. Tom Effler, with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies Martin McAlduff and Tyler Kelly stripped out of their gear and swam out to the swimmers, about 200 yards offshore. Effler said witnesses were already in the water and rescued one swimmer before the deputies could reach them.
Another swimmer made it to shore safely, but Jaimel Cooper slipped under the water and couldn't be found.
Wayne County EMS, the MAR-MAC Water Rescue Team and Wayne County Sheriff's Office dive team searched the water until 2:30 a.m. Monday and then resumed the search during the daylight. They found Jaimel's body around 7:45 a.m.
Jaimel's mother, Kim Cooper-Myrick, says her son knew how to swim. She said he was walking in waist-deep water when he sank into what she described as quick sand. The family is considering taking legal action against the beach, she said.
"He's my baby. There are no words. I'm going to miss him so much," Cooper-Myrick said. "He's not coming back."
Jack Rose Bennett, who once owned Busco Beach and is still involved with the site, said that, when he arrived, people weren't sure whether Jaimel had even gone in the water and that there was a search for him on shore.
Jaimel's family, who was not at the beach at the time, says authorities told them Jaimel was standing in the water when he started to sink.
"It's horrible. It's a personal tragedy to me," Bennett said. "I don't know (what happened). I truthfully do not know. I do know that 90 percent of this lake is 3 feet deep or less."
Sheriff C.A. Winders released a statement, saying his heart goes out to the teen's family.
"Unfortunately, with the extreme heat that we have been experiencing, this type of tragedy often occurs with water sports," Winders said. "I do want to commend Deputy McAlduff and Kelly for their quick thinking and fast response in assisting in the rescue of one of the swimmers."
At least two other people have drowned at the ATV park with a man-made beach since 2010: Samuel Evans Turner, 31, of Courtland, Va., in May 2011 and Michael Gardner, 44, of Rocky Mount, in June 2010.
There are no lifeguards at Busco Beach, and people are advised to swim at their own risk.