Local teams aiding in search for drowned firefighter

Published 1:29 pm Monday, June 8, 2020

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GREENVILLE — Members of the Sidney Dive Team and Bunyan Fire Department are among rescue personnel searching for an off-duty Greenville firefighter who presumptively drowned in the Tar River on Sunday afternoon.

According to Greenville Fire and Rescue spokesperson Rebekah Thurston, a small group of Greenville city employees were out on the Tar River boating on Sunday afternoon when the firefighter went underwater and didn’t resurface. His name had not been released as of early Monday afternoon.

“They searched for a minute themselves and then called 911,” Thurston said. “That was around 4 p.m. Our search got out there pretty much immediately and searched from about 4 p.m. yesterday until about 11 p.m.”

At that point, Thurston says the search was suspended for safety reasons. The effort resumed at daybreak Monday, she said. In a Monday morning update posted to social media, Greenville Fire and Rescue Chief Eric Griffin said that the search team would continue until the firefighter was found.

“We will be here all day until we find our friend and our coworker,” Griffin said. “I am thankful for all the thoughts and prayers from everybody who has shown concern. I know this is going to be a tremendous loss for our department, but we will stay strong and will work to make sure we can find him and comfort his family as well.”

In a Facebook post Sunday, the Red Oak Community Rural Fire Department confirmed that the firefighter also served as a volunteer member of that department. In addition to the Sidney Dive Team and Bunyan Fire Department, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, a team from Hertford County, N.C. Emergency Management, Red Oak RFD and the Greenville Police Department were aiding in the search.

This story is developing and will be updated as additional details become available.