07/09/12 — 14-year-old drowns

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14-year-old drowns

By John Joyce
Published in News on July 9, 2012 1:46 PM

Tragedy struck amid the high heat and dry air Sunday.

Darnell Cooper, 14, of Raleigh, drowned between 6 and 7 p.m. at Busco Beach ATV Park and Campground, 1234 Bryan Road, Goldsboro.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office was called immediately after witnesses saw a group of boys struggling in the water.

Nearby Deputies Martin McAlduff and Tyler Kelly responded, and found three persons treading water, Cooper, his friend and a fellow camper who was trying to help the two. The deputies were able to retrieve two of the three swimmers, but Cooper disappeared.

Busco Beach owner and operator Doug Jackson said Cooper and the other teen were swimming from one part of the beach to another when they began struggling.

"They were just swimming in the lake, and they must have tired out and went down," he said.

Jackson, who recently purchased the park and began operating the site a few months ago, was understandably fatigued.

"You don't sleep when stuff like that happens," he said.

Wayne County EMS was dispatched to the scene, along with a dive team and members of Arr-Mac Search and Rescue, a partnership between the Arrington and Mar Mac volunteer fire departments.

The rescue operation continued through the night until 2 a.m., when visibility and the safety of the rescue swimmers were so compromised that the search had to be called off.

The search for Cooper resumed at about 7 this morning and within the hour the young boy's body was recovered.

Cooper's parents were contacted and arrived Sunday night to witness the operations.

Once cleared by a Wayne Memorial Hospital physician, the boy's body will be released to his parents and transported to a funeral home of their choice.

Sheriff Carey Winders was among those touched by the incident.

"My heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim. Unfortunately with the extreme weather that we have been experiencing, this type of tragedy often occurs with water sports being a type of relief for the weather," he 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."