Child drowns in Roanoke River

Published 3:39 pm Friday, August 8, 2008

WELDON – A Northampton County child has tragically lost his life in a drowning here.

According to Major Bill Wheeler with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO), the body of Alvin Lee Harris, 11 of Garysburg, was recovered from the Roanoke River Thursday morning.

Wheeler said the NCSO received a call at approximately 5:25 p.m. on Wednesday in reference to an 11-year-old male going missing from the Weldon boat ramp.

Once law enforcement and rescue personnel responded, the search for Harris began, said Wheeler.

From the preliminary investigation, Wheeler said there was a small group of children playing at the water’s edge, where the victim lost his footing and slipped into deeper water.

“At the time the current was moving very rapidly and he became submerged in the water due to the current,” said Wheeler. “From my understanding he had limited swimming abilities.”

Several local and state law enforcement and rescue agencies participated in the 15-hour search.

A dive team from Littleton Volunteer Fire Department, Roanoke Valley Search and Recovery Team, Gaston Volunteer Department and Search and Recovery, Northampton County Emergency Management, the Halifax Sheriff’s Office, Halifax Emergency Medical Services, the Weldon Police Department and North Carolina Wildlife officers all assisted in patroling the river.

A helicopter from the North Carolina Highway Patrol was also used in the search along with sonar equipment from an agency in Apex, according to Wheeler.

“The operation continued until the wee hours of the morning,” said Wheeler.

Flood lights were placed along the bank of the river

At 5:30 a.m. on Thursday a fresh crew was brought in to relieve those rescue workers who had been involved with the previous night’s search.

Wheeler said Harris’s body was recovered at 8:42 a.m. one-half mile from the boat ramp.