FORSYTH COUNTY, NC -- Fire officials are urging people to be safe on the water during Fourth of July weekend after a recent drowning on Belews Lake.
On Sunday, crews found the body of Tyrell Smith about twenty feet under water in Belews Lake.
Officials say the 19-year-old was swimming with friends when he went under and never re-surfaced.
Bradley Watson, Assistant Chief of the Belews Creek Fire Department, says it’s a tragic reminder of the dangers of the water.
"It can happen to anybody,” said Watson. “Don't think for a split second that you are promised tomorrow. Things happen on that lake every so often. It can happen to you."
On Monday, Watson spent time restocking the gear on the station's rescue boats.
Even though Smith’s drowning was the first of the year on Belews Lake, Watson says it likely won't be the last.
He says the fire department gets an average of 10-15 rescue calls every year.
Most of those calls come on crowded holiday weekends, like the Fourth of July.
“It's a huge concern to us because if we do get a call on that lake, us trying to access where they are with all the traffic and all the people on the lake, it makes it more difficult for us to get to them,” said Watson.
Watson says there are three things everyone should do to stay safe on the water:
- Wear a life jacket at all times.
- Don’t drink alcohol on the water.
- If someone you know falls in the water, don’t try to be a hero, call 911 immediately.
“The quicker we can get there, the quicker we can get people in the water to get to these people, the better chance of survival they have,” said Watson.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission offers several boating and water safety courses throughout the year.