Another drowning victim found, but NC death toll still at 26

Another drowning victim of Hurricane Matthew was found in Lenoir County late Tuesday, but the death toll from the storm in North Carolina held steady at 26, after an autopsy revealed that a death earlier attributed to Matthew was unrelated, state officials said Wednesday.

The State Emergency Response Team did not have any details about the latest death, only that a body was found when floodwaters receded. That brings the number of people who died in Lenoir County to four, more than any other county except Johnston, where four people also died of storm-related causes.

Of the 26 deaths in the state, at least 21 drowned in floodwaters – 17 of them when a vehicle they were in was swept off the road. A Wake County man was killed on Oct. 10 when a tree fell on his car as he was driving, and in another case a Garland man hydroplaned and hit a tree in Sampson County.

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins Jr. said Wednesday that Hurricane Matthew may have played a role in the drowning death of a woman in a branch of Kerr Lake near Bullock on Saturday. Lillian Terry was wearing chest waders when someone found her floating face down at the shoreline behind her home on Farrow Lane late Saturday afternoon.

“The water was still high after the storm,” Wilkins said. “We believe Terry was attempting to get out to her boat dock, which was about 40 yards out into the water.”