Body found in South Fork Catawba River identified

Body of boat owner recovered on South Fork Catawba River

BELMONT, N.C. (WBTV) - The body found on the South Fork Catawba River in Belmont Wednesday morning has been identified by NC Wildlife officials as 60-yr-old Willie Junior Perry.

Crews were responding to an abandoned boat on the water near Armstrong Road when they made the discovery. Officials tried to contact the boat’s owner to see if anyone was on the boat or if crews need to search for anyone.

Just after 12 p.m., officials said the boat owner’s body was found. They said it appeared the man, later identified as Perry, was fishing when some sort of accident happened. They said that so far no criminal activity is suspected.

People living along the river were sad to hear of the news.

Larry Panel has lived there for seven years.

“I was hoping it was just a boat that had gotten loose from someone’s dock, but it was heart-wrenching to learn someone has died,” Panel said. “I feel for the family and I feel for him.”

Panel said it’s especially troubling because this is not the first time for it to happen this summer.

“It seems like things happen in a series and it’s been a bad year for the South Fork River,” he said.

This comes a month after two teens died on the South Fork Catawba River.

In June, a 14-year-old who went missing while swimming in the South Fork Catawba River was found dead several days later. The river was swollen from recent flooding.

A couple weeks later, a 16-year-old drowned in the river. She had been swimming with friends when she slipped.

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