When Besas' friends jumped back in the boat, they noticed he was gone, and called 911.
Rescue crews from Halifax County, Littleton, Warren County, Roanoke Valley, and Norfolk, including dive teams, are all on the scene.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol also assisted with an aerial search early Saturday morning.
"We're going to keep searching until we find the missing person," said Halifax County Sheriff's Lieutenant George Evans.
Besas' mother and father have been on the scene for much of the afternoon, and spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News.
Although they were too distraught to go on-camera, they say Besas is a good swimmer, and checked in with them regularly.
They also say Besas is a UNC graduate, and an accomplished motorcycle racer.
Besas' mom said she even received two phone calls from him late Friday.
The first she was able to answer.
The second: "I missed it," she said, crying as she spoke to Digital Journalist Mat Mendez.
She says she fears he might have needed her, and both Besas' mom and dad say the wait for news is agonizing.
Sheriff's officials say they have not found anything yet, and while they have restricted media access to the boat ramp that is acting as a command post, it is still open to the public.