WAKE COUNTY, N.C. —The Wake County Sheriff’s Office says the 19-year-old who drowned near the Falls Lake Dam on Sunday evening was Amir Tamel Crawford of Knightdale.
Police say they responded around 6:30 p.m. to the 12000 block of Old Falls of Neuse, at Falls Lake, for a reported drowning.
Witnesses who were swimming with Crawford told police they were near a rocky area of the lake when Crawford called for help, before suddenly going underwater.
One of Crawford’s friends apparently tried to rescue him but did not succeed.
The WCSO’s boat team was deployed within minutes of the call to begin the search and Crawford’s body was found around 10:30 p.m.
Since Since 2016, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office has responded to six drownings at Falls Lake, including a child who drowned in May 2020.
Typically, the Falls Lake Dam area is a quiet and relaxing spot. It’s popular among people who enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming. However, it is can be dangerous because the water is deep in certain places and the currents can be strong.
Arnold Tinch rides his bike in the area.
“I retired and I got to do something besides eat and sit around,” Tinch says.
Tinch rides about 100 miles or more every week.
“I mean, it’s just a peaceful ride. You know, nature, friendly people on the trail, great bikers, get my head clear, get the exercise. I live in Clayton, so it’s a pretty good ride,” he says.
Plenty of other people visit the area to fish, go on walks, and swim, despite signs warning not to get in the water. But Tinch says he’d never consider that.
“I wouldn’t even think about it. No. Absolutely not. Even in a pool, I use my brain. I can swim, but I’m not a strong swimmer,” he says.
Tinch says he was sad to learn a 19-year-old drowned in the area on Easter Sunday.
“No lights. What do they got? Their headlights on from the car maybe. It’s sad. They’re just starting to live and it’s over for them,” Tinch says.
He believes it would be hard to prevent people from getting in the water in the future, regardless of additional fencing or signs.
“People are going to do what they want to do. If they close it off here, they’re going to find somewhere else to jump in. Riptides, who knows where they are,” he says.
Tinch believes talking about the tragic situation may help other people realize it’s not a smart idea.
“I think it’s important to talk about it. That’s how you learn. Somebody’s listening that might’ve thought about doing it that won’t do it. Talking about it is the first thing for prevention,” he says.
The Wake County Sheriff’s Office ruled Crawford’s death accidental. They also say safety should always be the first priority when on the water, adding that you should never swim alone and you should wear a life vest if you are in open waters.
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