Search for firefighter's son swept away in river now a recovery mission

Searchers gather at the command center Monday morning.
Searchers gather at the command center Monday morning.
The teen went missing after attempting to cross the Broad River near Boiling Springs.
The teen went missing after attempting to cross the Broad River near Boiling Springs.

BOILING SPRINGS, NC (WBTV) - The search for a 14-year-old Cleveland County teen who was carried away by the swift currents of the Broad River became a recovery mission on Friday.

Nathan Beck and another 14 year old were swept away by the water while trying to cross the river on the afternoon of Sunday, April 17. The other teen made it out of the water safely.

Search teams spent all day Friday searching the Broad River.  They are certain that Beck's body is hidden somewhere in its waters.

Beck's father, who is a well known firefighter with the Shelby Fire Department, has been at the search site since his son disappeared Sunday.

The search effort, which is now strictly on a volunteer basis, includes several members of the Boiling Springs community, who are set on bringing answers to the family and closure to their friend.

Crews from all over have come to the river the past few day to help locate Beck and more will come in to help in the coming days until the young man is found.

Crews say there are still many place to search, and no one is giving up hope.

Search experts spent hour in the cold water using a camera to search the deeper areas of the river, with more teams on the river bank keeping an eye on the water for anything along the surface.

Family and friends held a prayer vigil for Beck at Crestview Baptist Church in Shelby Wednesday. About 100 people gathered at the church, many people wiped away tears as they prayed for the teen's family.

Beck's family stayed at the search site during the vigil.

On Wednesday, 45 rescuers entered the water shoulder to shoulder conducting a grid search of the area in the water where Beck went missing.

Rescuers used three boats to search the river on Tuesday, but the water conditions have made the search extremely difficult.

"It's very in depth, everything from 3 feet to 12 to 15 feet deep, it's just the speed and temperature of the water that makes it very difficult, " said Shelby Fire and Rescue spokesman Dr. Eric Davis.

Many of the firefighters taking part in the search have known the victim since he was just a child.

"We've all known the firefighter for years and most of us have seen that child grow up, so this is home for us, it's one of our own," said Cleveland County Emergency Management team member Dock Tallent.

An officer with the Boiling Springs Police Department said the teens entered the water about two miles west of the Highway 150 bridge Sunday afternoon.

The police department says there are signs posted in the area which say swim at your own risk.

According to police, the searchers are from several local law enforcement agencies.

Police say the mission remains a search and recovery operation and they are hopeful they will find Beck alive.

This week, dive teams have used sonar equipment in the water, but the murky water has made the search more difficult.

"In this river there's a lot of rocks, there's a lot of debris under the water," said Tallent. "It's just a crawl and feel because they're not able to see anything under there."

Rescuers plan to continue searching Thursday morning.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. All Rights Reserved.