Man drowns, four other people rescued at Rowan County park

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man drowned Saturday afternoon after jumping in the water near the Bullhole and Cooleemee WaterPark.

It was supposed to be a fun day at a popular local swimming hole, but the rain swollen Yadkin River made conditions dangerous.

"We love the water, we come to play all the time in the water," one witness told WBTV.

Witnesses and investigators said about 75 people were at the Cooleemee RiverPark around 2:45 when tragedy struck.

"We were out swimming on the rocks, sliding down the rocks and everything," said Denise Paularena.   "A guy came out with a dog and I guess the dog had jumped off…everybody went to go save the dog, one guy got hurt, another guy he went under water and that was the last we seen of him."

Investigators say a man carrying a dog was walking across the top of the dam when the rushing water caused him to fall. That man suffered a broken ankle and was taken to the hospital.

A witness, Steven Tanksley, jumped in the water to try and help the man, but he ended up going underwater and not coming back up. A woman and two other men jumped in, one man drifted away and was rescued down river, the other two were also rescued closer to the scene.

Rescue crews started a search along a six mile stretch of the river for Tanksley.

"They're downstream somewhere and I pray to the lord that the man is recovered safe and sound," one witness said.The efforts were called off around 6:00 pm when a storm came through the area, but were resumed about thirty minutes later.  Tanksley's body was found around 8:50 pm.

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