BOILING SPRINGS, NC (WBTV) - A desperate search for a 34-year-old Naval Academy graduate who officials believe was swept away in the Broad River in Boiling Springs continues.
Keenan Little was allegedly last seen by Chris and Anthony Parker, a father and son who were out fishing Saturday around 1:40 pm on the Broad River.
“We noticed something coming down the river. At first we thought it was a beaver or a goose,” said Chris Parker.
When the Parker’s realized it was a person, they jumped into the cold water to help.
Search and rescue crews have deployed helicopters and dive teams to try and find the missing Little, who officials say is not believed to be alive.
“I’m just like fight Keenan, wherever you are, fight, don’t give up,” said Barbara Little, Keenan’s mother.
When Dorothy Wilson, Little’s 86-year-old grandma, was asked if she could say anything to her grandson, she responded with tears.
“I love you Keenan, I love you,” said Wilson.
Little’s grandma along with his parents and dozens of family members gathered at the Boiling Springs Fire Department to pray for the 34-year-old Naval Academy graduate’s return.
“He was the heart of the family. If you look at the family and saw who has the biggest heart it was Keenan,” said Jason Wilson, Little’s cousin.
“When I realized it was somebody I had to get out there and try,” said Chris Parker. “When I hit the water and as I was stroking it was hard to breathe because it was so cold.”
They say Little was carried too fast downriver to help.
“I just had this instant feeling of grief,” said Parker.
Little’s mom was wearing her son’s Shrine Bowl jacket from his successful football career. She says she is holding out faith that her son is alive, but says ultimately her son belongs to God.
“If it’s his will for Keenan to be on the other side I’m gonna deal with that and accept that,” said Barbara Little, Keenan’s mother.
Barbara Little says her son would often go to the river to be with God, and just before going there on Saturday, had given her a call.
“The greenway was Keenan’s spot he went to to get away and clear his mind,” said Little.
The family and search crews are working to find out what happened in between calling his mom, coming down to this river and then being spotted by the fisherman floating down the river.
“I hope they’ll find him, I just know he’s dead,” said Dorothy Wilson.
Little’s family simply asked for prayers from everyone.
“He was like the backbone of our family and will be broke without him,” said Jason Wilson.
Rescue crews found clothing and some personal items on a rock near the river and footprints leading into the water.
Family members say Little works for the United States Postal Service and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. The family also says they spoke to two witnesses who saw Little in the river asking for help.
According to the family, those witnesses tried to jump in to reach Little but could not.
According to the Boiling Springs Police Department, search teams, including Boiling Springs Fire and Rescue and Henderson County Rescue, have been looking looked all Sunday and Monday until dark. They are using sonar technology to scan for any signs of Little.
Concerns have rose about Tuesday’s search when the water temperature is expected to drop to 52 degrees in the morning. The search will resume at 8:00 a.m.