Local News

Teen's body found in Cape Fear River on his graduation day

Posted June 6, 2013

— Search crews on Thursday found the body of an 18-year-old high school student who disappeared while swimming with friends in the Cape Fear River.

Witnesses said Dustin Turner went under water and never resurfaced Tuesday evening in an area off Old Bluff Church Road between Wade and Godwin.

Cumberland County sheriff's investigators believe an undercurrent pulled the Cape Fear High School senior beneath the water and drowned him.

His body was found floating in the river about a mile from where he went missing shortly before 2 p.m. – three hours before he would have graduated with classmates at Cumberland County Crown Coliseum.

Family members said Turner had planned to study heating and air conditioning at Fayetteville Technical Community College in the fall.

Classmates gathered at the river Thursday afternoon to pay their respects.

"It's sad to see a gap in the Cape Fear family now," said Chris Jones, 15. "Cape Fear is one big family."

Teen's body found floating in Cape Fear River Teen's body found floating in Cape Fear River

"You remember the good times, and that's what keeps you motivated," 16-year-old Branson Hayes said. "You live your life in a way that he would be proud of, in a way that he'd want you to."

Turner's drowning is the third in the area in a week's time.

On Saturday, Justin Lee Harris, 19, of Erwin's body was recovered from the Cape Fear River Bridge after he drowned while fishing with friends.

On Sunday, Braxton Horton, 19, of Raleigh, died after being pulled underwater while swimming in Pine Knoll Shores.


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  • lisa4 Jun 7, 2013

    Prayers for all of these families

  • Fireflies Rock Jun 6, 2013

    How devastating; this is heartbreaking. I hope his family has a good support system to help them with their agony

  • justdontgetit Jun 6, 2013

    zl1cor69 Is absolutely right. The Cape Fear River is nothing to play with and it is extremely dangerous! I have had my fair share of water rescues in that very same area that zl1cor69 is talking about when I was doing Fire & Rescue dating back into the early 1990's. The river is unpredictable and some places have holes that are 60 feet deep or more. Rocks and dead trees under the water that you cant see and I have even come across power lines and light poles that ended up down river from Erwin from previous Hurricanes that were just under the water as well. People need to respect the river because it has taken way to many lives over the years and it seems to be getting worse!

  • OpenM1nd Jun 6, 2013

    Let there be no more of these tragic water deaths. Not that any of these cases were in exception, but it really helps to always swim/fish/boat with a buddy, and never while under the influence of alcohol. For rescuers, the mantra is "Reach, Throw, Row, Go!" in that order. Have a safe summer.

  • cyndicaron Jun 6, 2013

    While I do not know this young man, I have a son graduating high school next week the very same age. This is so terribly tragic and my heart and prayers are with his family, friends and all who love and will miss him. Prayers for all of you for needed strength. I cannot imagine.

  • zl1cor69 Jun 6, 2013

    Another sad situation. I have always lived about 1/2 mile from the Cape Fear River and I have never touched the water. The Cape Fear River isn`t to be messed with from Smileys Falls (north of Erwin) to Fayetteville. The river is really rocky in that area and you can get in trouble fast. I can remember 2 victims being found behind our house. Anyone that gets into the Cape Fear River, be carefull!! RIP!

  • beas Jun 6, 2013

    Prayers for his family and friends. At least now they can have closure.

  • LuvLivingInCary Jun 6, 2013

    i can tell you from having a relative drown that the worse part is knowing that the drowning happened and not having a body. As bad as it sounds, I'm glad they have his body recovered and can now move on to celebrating his life story.

  • BEACH Jun 6, 2013

    Prayers for his family and friends,so sad for their loss.

  • MitziGaynor Jun 6, 2013

    So sad. Heartbreaking.