Goldsboro, N.C. — The recording of a witness’ 911 call describes the moments a 5-year-old son and his father disappeared beneath the surface of the Neuse River on Wednesday.
Crews have been searching for the missing father and son, who were lost in the river while on a fishing trip in Goldsboro.
The caller said the boy and father were on the dock fishing when the child fell. When the father attempted to save the boy, both went missing in the strong current.
A bystander told the 911 operator they saw the pair go under the water, and they rushed to the area where they last saw them – but it was just too late.
“The current pushed the baby away,” said the caller. “The daddy jumped in the water behind him.”
Emergency crews responded to the Goldsboro Boating Access Area at 2091 U.S. Highway 117 around 8 p.m. They’ve been searching ever since, pausing only for a brief break overnight.
“The water is moving, it is about 3 to 4 miles an hour,” said Joel Gillie, the county’s public information officer. “So from the bank, it does not look all that bad, but from the bank it is always dangerous.”
Gillie said a helicopter and seven boats were working to find the father and son Thursday. The water is about 10 feet deep, he said.
“There was a bystander on the bank that was the original 911 caller. They saw what happened” said Gillie. “There was also another boat, a fishing vessel out there that saw everything happened, attempted to help, but was unsuccessful.”
Multiple search crews responded, including Arr-Mac Water Response, Goldsboro Water Rescue, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Dive Team, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit and Wayne County EMS.
Gillie said the darkness presented issues for the search crews, who had to use sonar in the search.
Search crews have expanded their search further down river, where it’s possible the current could have pushed the father and son. A mobile command unit has also been set up on the banks.
A cousin, Rasheda Bryant, said the two love to fish and do it all the time.
“They just bought some new fishing poles, the little boy would get excited about coming out here fishing with his dad and spending time with him like that, so this is tragic,” Bryant said. “They’re both fighters, full of joy, I was just with them last night … so for this to be happening right now seems so unreal.”
Bryant said at least 20 or 30 family members rushed to the dock Wednesday as soon as they learned what happened.
The family is asking for prayers.
“We want to be hopeful,” Bryant said. “There is a God, keep us in your prayers.”