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Recovery Made in High Shoals River Incident

Just before 4pm on June 24, 2019 the Gaston County 911 Communications Center received a call that a teenage girl had jumped off the South Fork River Bridge on Old US 321 in the town of High Shoals located in northern Gaston County. Two girls were immediately located and brought to safety and both were well and uninjured. A search for the third teenaged girl was immediately mobilized and she was located a short time later. Investigators from the Gaston County Police Department have so far determined that the teenagers had been swimming in the river and exploring the rocky area downstream from the bridge when the incident occurred.

During operations yesterday, responders lowered water levels at the dam, which allowed them to locate the victim. Water turbulence, however, preluded recovery. A storm last night produced a lightning strike that shut down the generator being used to pump the water causing the water level to rise to the point where responders were unable to recover the victim. Repairs were attempted through the night but with no success. A generator repairman was called and he arrived on the scene around noon today.

At approximately 1:15pm today repairs to the generator were completed. Water levels were again reduced and a recovery operation took place that involved diverting remaining water flow away from the area where the victim was located. 

At approximately 5:20pm today those efforts were successful and the body presumed to be that of 16-year-old Makenna Warlick, pending official identification, was located just below the High Shoals Dam where she was last seen in the water.

Today’s operation included responders from Gaston County Emergency Medical Services, Dallas Rescue Squad, Gaston County Police Department, North Gaston Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Gastonia Fire Department, Charlotte Fire Department, Denver Fire Department, Lincoln County Swift Water Rescue Team, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Lincoln County Fire Marshal’s Office, American Red Cross, Gaston County Emergency Management and Fire Marshal’s Office, and the North Carolina Office of Emergency Management assisted in today’srecovery operation. The Town of Dallas and City of High Shoals also provided resources.  Technical assistance was provided by an engineer under contract with the North Carolina Office of Emergency Management and Bill Crowder with Crowder Construction.

For further information, contact Sgt. M. S. Hensley, Gaston County Police Department, at 704-866-3320.