05/05/09 — Drowning victim identified; area dangerous, officials say

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Drowning victim identified; area dangerous, officials say

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on May 5, 2009 1:46 PM

When six men and a woman gathered at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park Sunday, they were just looking for a little fun in the river, a state parks official said.

But swimming in a dangerous part of the Neuse River took the life of Brian Matthew Davis, 21, of Goldsboro, state parks spokesman Charlie Peek said.

Peek said that two of the six men were pulled under by dangerous undercurrents, and one as-yet unidentified man was rescued. Davis became submerged, and his body still has not been located, authorities said today.

Peek said the group chose to swim in one of the most dangerous areas along the entire length of the river.

The area is not marked as a designated swimming area.

"It's a very poor place to swim," the state parks public information officer said. "As a cautionary tale, this part of the river, it's quite deep, because the cliffs are right there.

"You have a whole lot of eddies and strange currents going on, in that bend of the river, the current is going to be much faster right at the edge of the cliff. This is probably one of the more dangerous areas in the river to swim."

Peek said the group of youths was actually in violation of state park rules, which prohibit swimming in undesignated areas.

"They're not supposed to be swimming except in designated areas," he said. "And that's not a designated area."

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said dragging of the river for the body would continue today. Dive teams began the search Sunday night in a grid pattern from the place Davis was last seen.

The sheriff said the physics involved in a river drowning make it difficult to find a body, particularly in such a deep part of the river.

"It's really hard to find something like that -- it could be up under the banks or up under the shrubs," Winders said.