Sonar locates Raleigh boater's body

Lake Wheeler reopens

Staff WriterJune 20, 2011 

— A three-man volunteer search crew using sonar equipment found the body of a missing Raleigh boater early Sunday on Lake Wheeler.

About 2 a.m., Darryl Raynard Kimble, 49, of 3205 Balm Court in Raleigh was found dead, according to Raleigh Police Capt. G.B. Dixon.

Police say the N.C. Canine Emergency Response Team, a nonprofit group that specializes in locating missing people, found the body.

Kimble was found on the upper end of the lake, not far from where his boat was spotted empty Saturday afternoon.

A pair of shoes belonging to Kimble was found late Saturday. But the search for the body, which involved seven emergency departments from around Wake County, was delayed by thunderstorms.

As darkness fell, traditional search methods became less effective. That's when the response team went out on the water. The Wendell-based volunteer group can't use its specially trained dogs at night, but their side-scan sonar works best when the sun's down and the lake is still.

The state-of-the-art sonar bounces a signal off the bottom of the lake, allowing the crew to see shapes below the surface on a computer screen.

"It gives you a pretty impressive return," said Mac Morgan, the group's chief. "If you have a flashlight on the bottom of the lake, that's what you would see."

Morgan's group, which is funded entirely through donations, is the only agency in the Triangle with the $30,000 sonar equipment. In the three years the emergency response team has used it, members have made about eight successful recoveries, Morgan said.

Once the sonar pinpointed Kimble's location, police and fire crews retrieved the body and investigated the cause of the accident.

"It appeared something happened and he fell out of the boat - it appeared to be strictly accidental," Dixon said.

Dixon said it's possible a medical condition was to blame for Kimble's death, and an autopsy will determine the exact cause.

The boating ramp and recreation areas at Lake Wheeler reopened Sunday morning.

Kimble had worked as ameter reader supervisor with the town of Cary for 12 years.

Cary spokeswoman Deanna Boone said news of his death was a "terrible shock" to the town. "Darryl contributed greatly to the town over the years," she said. "His wife used to work for us, so this is a loss for our family."

colin.campbell@newsobserver.com or 919-836-5768

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