'Not the outcome we seek': Body recovered from Falls Lake during search for missing boater

Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Body of missing boater recovered
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The Wake County Sheriff's Office said a drone from the Wake Forest Fire Department was instrumental in the search and said the missing boater was found just before 9 p.m.

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- Search crews recovered the body of a boater who had been missing since he crashed into another boat on Falls Lake during a thunderstorm on Sunday.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office said a drone from the Wake Forest Fire Department was instrumental in the search and said the missing boater was found just before 9 p.m.

"It's not the outcome we seek, but we take a sense of satisfaction that we can bring some closure to this family," Wake County Sheriff Willie Rowe said.

The sheriff's office would not confirm the identity of the person recovered but said late Monday night that the man they had been looking for had been found. Family members earlier identified the missing boater as 21-year-old Raiquan Massenburg. He was out on the lake fishing with a friend prior to the crash.

"For any of us out here, it's to bring closure and to give family any kind of peace of mind," said Matt Strawbridge of Wake Forest Fire and Water Rescue.

His team did much of the work to bring closure to the recovery effort.

His team's underwater drone aided the three-hour investigation.

"They go around these old shipwrecks and things, but it has a sonar on the front and an arm on the front if you needed to pick something up," Strawbridge said. The drone helped pinpoint the location where the missing boater went under. It was the first time the team had used the drone for a water search and rescue.

The sheriff's office said that as many as 50 people were involved in the search Monday. Search crews were utilizing 12 boats, multiple drones, K-9 search teams, divers and even the State Highway Patrol helicopter.

"We're not leaving any resources out there untouched," Chief Tony Godwin said

The area of the lake where the boats crashed is between 15-35 feet deep.

ABC11 learned that all of the people involved in the crash were young people. Massenburg was the oldest and he was with his friend who is 20 years old. The other boat was being driven by a 16-year-old.

The 16-year-old was wearing a lifejacket and did not sustain any serious injuries. However, Massenburg and his 20-year-old friend were not wearing lifejackets. The friend was found and taken to the hospital; as of Monday night, he was still hospitalized with serious injuries.

NC Wildlife blamed the crash on a severe storm that passed through the area. A full report on the crash has not been released.

"They were out in the storm. It was a bad storm--thunder, lightning, heavy rain. It dumped a tremendous amount of rain at one given time," NC Wildlife investigator Lt. Brandon Coffey said.

"It was a sunny day, and then this rain, the skies opened up. And you have to be alert when you're on the water, and keep that in mind," said Rosalia Fodera from Wake County Sheriff's Office.

The crash happened around 2 p.m. Search and rescue crews jumped into action as soon as they were alerted. They spent seven hours searching for the missing man but were unsuccessful Sunday and resumed the search first thing Monday morning.

The Northern Wake Fire Department, Wake Forest Fire Department, Wake County Emergency Management, Wake County EMS, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, NC Trooper's Association K-9 Search and Recovery, North Carolina State Parks, Chatham County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Durham County Sheriff's Office, and Youngsville Dive Teams all responded and assisted in the search.