ORRUM — A Fairmont man drowned this weekend in the Lumber River when his boat overturned, according to Maj. Anthony Thompson, chief of detectives for the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.
Tommy Hunt, 42, was near the Princess Anne access area on Sunday at about 3 p.m. when his life vest came off after he was dumped into the river. A second person in the boat, Billy Hunt, was able to swim to safety. The men are not related.
“Once you get under the water, it’s a whole different world. It’s a very strong current there,” said Chief Danny Parker, who heads Fairmont’s Department of Public Safety and serves with the South Robeson Rescue Unit.
When Tommy Hunt’s life jacket slipped off, tried to throw the vest back to him, Thompson said. When Tommy Hunt couldn’t reach his vest, Billy Hunt swam to a dock to call for help.
The South Robeson Rescue Unit along with Red Springs Rescue, Lumberton Rescue and Emergency Medical Services and park rangers scoured the area for about three hours before they were able to the body, Parker said.
“With the state park we routinely have overdue boats, canoers or people that don’t arrive back on time,” said Parker, who has worked for the rescue unit for 22 years. “This is the first drowning we’ve had there in a year or two at least.
“… The Lumber River State Park is becoming very popular,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people from out of town and the biggest thing they should do is wear a life jacket.”
Parker said park-goers should keep a cell phone on them and inform their friends or families exactly where they will be and when they should be back so they can alert rangers if something seems off.
A post on Lumberton Rescue’s Facebook page Sunday captured the event.
“Today Rescue 2, 1 and 6 had the task of recovering a drowning victim on the Lumber River. While these events are never welcomed, it did demonstrate what can be accomplished by working together. Thanks to those who responded to the call from all three squads. Prayers for the family and friends of the victim,” it said.