RALEIGH — A Raleigh teenager who drowned Sunday is the fifth person since 2000 to die in the shallow waters of a man-made lake near Goldsboro.
Dive teams with the Wayne County sheriff’s office and nearby volunteer fire departments scoured the 30-acre Busco Beach & ATV Park for nearly 12 hours before finding the body of Jaimel Kyrle Cooper, 14, of Argent Valley Drive in North Raleigh. Cooper was a rising 10th-grader at Heritage High School in Wake Forest.
Cooper was swimming with friends at 6:45 p.m. when he went under waters that are no deeper than 4 feet, said Maj. Tom Effler of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
Another youngster who slipped under the water was pulled out and transported to the hospital, Effler said. A water rescue team from local fire departments joined a sheriff’s office dive team to look for Cooper and worked until 2:30 a.m. before suspending the search because of darkness, Effler said.
The divers resumed their search Monday and located Cooper’s body at 7:45 a.m., Effler said.
The parents of Cooper’s young friends who were with him when he disappeared Sunday would not allow them to talk to reporters Tuesday. But Effler said he heard reports indicating Cooper had sunk in the pond’s soft bottom.
There are no lifeguards at the area, Effler said. “There are plenty of signs telling people that they are swimming at their own risk,” he said.
Effler said he knows of two previous drownings at Busco Beach.
On June 28, 2011, Samuel Evan Turner, 31, of Courtland, Va., drowned while swimming with friends at the beach, he said. In June 2010, Michael Gardner, 44, of Rocky Mount was fishing with his family at the beach when he went out into the water. Witnesses said Gardner went under and did not resurface.
Effler said a male swimmer disappeared under the water at Buscso Beach in 2004. Emergency workers pulled the man from the water and transported him to a local hospital where he was later declared brain dead and taken off life support, he said.
Steve Harrison, chief of the Rosewood Fire Department in Goldsboro, was a member of a dive team that helped the Wayne County sheriff’s office recover the body of a young man who drowned in the lake in 2000.
“His hands and feet were sunk in the dirt,” Harrison said on Tuesday. “I managed to get him around the waist and pull him up.”
Harrison said that drowning victim had been last spotted in the same area where Cooper was last seen by his friends on Sunday.
“It always happens between the shoreline and the island,” Harrison said. “The owners always use the same excuse. ‘The victim just got tired from swimming and just went under.’ ”
Harrison said he would not go swimming at Busco Beach, nor would he allow his family to swim there.
Effler said the owner of Busco Beach is Doug Jackson. However, the park’s previous owner, Fred Bennett, has been publicly answering questions about the park and Sunday’s drowning.
A man who answered the phone at the beach Tuesday said it is now owned by Smart Investors LLC, a Maryland real estate company. The real estate company could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Jaimel Cooper would have celebrated his 15th birthday on July 20. Although Heritage High is out for summer break, Wake County Public Schools has contacted the parents of students who rode the school bus with Cooper each day.
“We will offer counseling for his friends if they need it,” schools spokeswoman Samiha Khanna said Tuesday.