Two men drown on Fourth of July
One off Ocracoke, one near Everetts
By CHRISTINA HALE
A Robersonville man and a West Virginia man drowned Wednesday in separate incidents.
Gerardo Cruz, 32, of Robersonville, fell off a pontoon boat into a privately owned pond while fishing with three other men near Everetts, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s Lt. Drew Robinson said Cruz fell into the pond around 4:30 p.m.
Cruz’s brothers, Jose and Mario, and a friend, Eric Jimenez, tried to help Cruz. They were unable to pull him back into the boat, Martin County Sheriff Dan Gibbs said Thursday.
One of the men went to the nearest residence and called for help.
Rescue divers from Beaufort County helped search for Cruz’s body Wednesday, but didn’t find it. Divers and a search helicopter with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office and cadaver dogs from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office looked for the body Thursday, but they had not found it as of 5 p.m. Robinson said.
The pond, which is on a private farm on Wynn Road, is about “22 to 23 feet deep and a good acre,” Gibbs said. Asked if the men in the boat had consumed alcoholic beverages Wednesday, he said, “We haven’t heard at this point.”
Robinson said the men in the boat didn’t own the farmland.
John C. Parsons of Ona, W.Va., was swimming off of Ocracoke Island with three children — his son and daughter and a male, family friend — when they entered a rip current, according to Bill Caswell, a park ranger at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. They were pulled from the water, but Parsons could not be revived, according to Caswell.
Caswell, another park ranger and two off-duty park lifeguards responded to the emergency call at 7:16 p.m. The Parsonses and their friend were on the beach when the rangers and lifeguards arrived at the scene.
The friend and people at the beach carried the son and daughter from the surf to the shore safely, Caswell wrote in a statement.
Parsons, the last of the four brought to shore, wasn’t breathing when personnel with Ocracoke EMS arrived. Parsons was transported to the Ocracoke Health Center, where he was pronounced dead.