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Safety of Busco Beach in question after five drown in 12 years

A 14-year-old boy who drowned Sunday was the latest death at the private recreational area in Goldsboro.

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GOLDSBORO, N.C. — Two days after a teenager drowned while swimming at Busco Beach in Goldsboro, questions are being raised about the safety of the private recreational area.

Records show five people have drowned at the park in the last 12 years. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office responded to drownings there in 2000, 2004, 2010, 2011 and this past weekend.

Steve Harrison, chief of the Rosewood Fire Department, was part of a rescue dive team who found the body of a man at the beach years ago.

He said he still thinks about what he saw that day.

“The body that I recovered was actually sunk in the ground, and it took some force to get him freed up,” Harrison said. “It appeared that his feet had gotten stuck and he might have bent over to push himself up from the floor, and his hands got stuck at the time.”

When Harrison heard about 14-year-old Jaimel Cooper, who drowned at Busco Beach on Sunday, he said the memories came flooding back.

“I think some investigation needs to be done,” he said, adding that the owner of the beach should have divers mark trouble spots and post warning signs.

Cooper’s family says they were told by authorities that the young man was standing in the water but started to sink.

“My baby got caught,” said Kim Cooper, Jaimel’s mother. “He’s not coming back.”

Jack Rose Bennett, who founded Busco Beach but is not the current owner, defended the facility. He said sent divers in years ago to make sure there were no unsafe spots in the sand¬.

“I researched this thing. I worked on it intensely before I ever allowed anyone to swim there,” he said.

“We graded and sloped those shores beautifully to perfection, then we allowed the swimmers to come.”

Cooper was there with a friend's family. Bennett says the issue was that the teen wasn't supervised.

“As long as there are ponds and lakes and creeks and rivers and swimming pools and people swim, they’re going to drown,” he said. “And most of it’s irresponsible parents or guardians.”


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