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Update on South Fork River Search

On Tuesday, June 11, 2016 at approximately 7:00am the Gaston County 911 Communications Center received report a male standing on an island in the South Fork River at the Stanley Spencer Mountain Rd. Bridge. First responders utilizing swift water rescue teams were able to extract the teenager from the river and he was transported to Caromont Regional Medical Facility where he was treated and released. During the rescue responders learned that a second teenager, Ethan Britt was also missing.  Rescuers subsequently learned that both teenagers had gone swimming in the South Fork River the night before around 8:00pm. The river at that time was flooding and near its crest of 14.1 feet.

An extensive search of the river began which included a helicopter and drones, crews searching the river banks on foot, and numerous swift water teams searching the river by boat. On Wednesday, crews again searched the river throughout the day by air, on the ground, and in the water. On Thursday, crews continued searching the river with drones, with crews on foot checking anything that was observed by air.  A search of Lake Wylie was also conducted by boat utilizing canines.

At this time, Ethan has still not been located.

On Friday, June 14, 2019 teams will again search the South Fork River. This phase of the operation will again utilize swift water teams that will search by raft and on foot as the water levels have receded to just above 4 feet, which preclude the use of motorized boats in many areas of the river, a search by air with drones, and a use of sonar equipment in the area where Ethan was last seen in the water.  This significant drop in water level, currently at 4.3 feet, currently has provided us an improved window of opportunity to search for Ethan.

Please continue to pray for Ethan, his family, and our responders.

For further information contact W.S. Melton, Jr., Public Information Officer, Gaston County Office of Emergency Management, at 704-862-8982.