Chatham County

Hope Mills Army vet drowns in Harris Lake

Two old Army buddies were set to go fishing in the Chatham County portion of Harris Lake on Wednesday morning when one of the men lost his balance and fell into the water.

Dale Justus, 60, of Hope Mills never resurfaced, said Debra Henzy, spokeswoman for Chatham County. Search teams with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Chatham County Emergency Services and area fire departments scoured the lake for nearly five hours before locating Justus’s body at 2:53 p.m., Henzy said.

Henzy said Justus and his friend, whose name was not made public, were about to fish and Justus was doing something with the anchor when he lost his balance and fell into the lake. His friend jumped in after him but was unable to find him, she said.

Justus’s friend got out of the water and called 911. The unmanned boat drifted away from the spot where Justus had toppled into the water, and it took rescue teams awhile to identify where he had fallen in, Henzy said.