At 4:26 pm on July 4th, Morganton Public Safety officers responded to a call at the Greenway near Judges Riverside Restaraunt about a missing kayaker. Upon arrival, Officer J. Bess met with the father of the missing youth, Brandon Fore. Fore told Officer Bess that his 15 year old son, who is an experienced kayaker, did not exit the river at the designated point on Watermill Road with the others in his party. His friends said he had floated downstream around a bend in the river ahead of them and missed the exit point. Public Safety officers and Fire Engineer J. Burnett quickly staged at different points along the river in the city and spoke to anyone in the area about having seen the boy.
It was quickly determined that the youth had not come past the dam and spillway at the city's water treatment plant. Officers changed locations to points at and above the spillway to search for the boy. Lt. Triplett called for assistance from Burke County Rescue and Emergency Management. Both agencies were enroute within minutes to Watermill Road to begin searching downstream toward the city officers already on the scene. Lt. Triplett and PSO Paterno walked the river's edge from the spillway to a point approximately 300 yards upriver where the trees thickened and line of sight upriver was nearly impossible.
At 4:56 pm, Lt. R.Triplett and PSO A. Paterno were leaving the river's edge when Officer Paterno saw a young man walking away from the river toward a tree nursery off NC 126 about 350 yards above the spillway. Both officers called out to the youth and identified him as the missing teenager. Lt. Triplett alerted Burke County Communications and other officers that the missing kayaker had been found safe. All assisting units were released as officers ensured the teenager was not injured or suffering any medical issues from the heat. PSO Paterno assisted the youth with recovering his kayak and fishing gear, then the officers led the boy out of the woods to the patrol vehicles where they waited. PSO Bess led the father from the Greenway to where he could be reunited with his son.
The total time from dispatch to the youth being located was 30 minutes. Morganton Public Safety thanks all responding agencies and civilian persons who assisted us with narrowing our search area and bringing this to a happy conclusion.