Missing Boater Recovered During Nine Hour Search After Tragic Boating Accident

Andrew Tetreault

A 19-year-old man's body was recovered Monday afternoon after an accident on the Catawba River early Monday morning.

On Monday May 20, 2019 at approximately 1:00 p.m., the body of a missing boater was recovered from the Catawba River after an extensive day long search. Gaston County EMS was called to the area of the Kevin Lofton Boat Landing in Belmont, North Carolina, around 4:30 a.m for a report of a boat taking on water in the river.

A spokesman, with the Belmont Police Department, said a small boat carrying four people was coming back to shore following a camping trip on a small island when it began taking on water. There were four occupants on board the vessel at the time of accident. 911 calls into Gaston County reported that three people were in distress in the water. Three of the victims were able to make it safely to shore, but the fourth person on board went unaccounted for.

Belmont Police Department confirm the four people were camping on an island just north of the Catawba River Bridge when they were ferrying people back to Kevin Lofton Boat Landing.

Additional resources were called in to assist in the search for the missing boat occupant. Charlotte Fire Department sent a dive team with two additional marine units to assist in what was being called a recovery mission. Multiple marine units from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Charlotte Fire Department, and Belmont Fire Department were seen on the river into early afternoon.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission confirms that the body of 19-year-old James Coulter of Gastonia, North Carolina, was recovered shortly after 1:00 p.m. The investigation will focus on what caused the boat to take on water and whether camping was legally allowed on the small island.