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Sheriff: Watauga Lake death appears accidental

May 25th, 2014 4:35 pm by Max Hrenda

Sheriff: Watauga Lake death appears accidental

The body of Cody Roberts, 21, was found dead under a dock in Watauga Lake. (Photo from Cody Roberts' Facebook profile)

Authorities said an Elizabethton man may have accidentally drowned while attending a party along Watauga Lake Memorial Day weekend.

On Sunday, members of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad found the body of Cody Roberts, 21, after friends and family reported him missing earlier that day.

Mathes said Roberts had been a guest at a house on Campbell Road in Butler, adjacent to Watauga Lake, for a Memorial Day celebration, and was last seen around 1 a.m. Sunday. At around 6 a.m., Mathes said, people noticed he was missing and, after failing to find him, they called the sheriff’s department and Carter County Rescue Squad EMS.

“At about 11, we were contacted and responded to Watauga Lake,” Mathes said. “They had been looking for (him) and couldn’t find him. They found some of his belongings ... right next to the water.”

Rescue Squad’s Search and Rescue team deployed an underwater rescue robot, Mathes said, and, within a few hours, located him underneath the dock.

“He was ... within about 20 to 25 feet from where it appeared he went into the water,” he said. “He was kind of entangled in some brush.”

Because of that brush, Mathes said, the robot was unable to retrieve Roberts’ body from the water. The body was recovered by three members of the Sullivan County EMS dive team.

Mathes said preliminary indications suggest Roberts’ death was accidental. Nevertheless, he said, the circumstances of his death would be examined.

“It appears, at this point, to be an accident,” Mathes said. “We are ordering an autopsy.”

While those autopsy results will take time, Roberts’ family and friends are mourning the loss.

“From what we hear, he was a very well-liked young man,” he said. “It’s a very sad thing for the family.”

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REPORTED EARLIER:

Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said the body of a man who was reported missing on Sunday was found dead from apparent drowning in Watauga Lake this evening.

Mathes said the man – who he did not identify, citing concern for the family – was visiting a house on Campbell Road in Butler, near the lake, and was last seen around 1 a.m. Sunday. When friends and family went looking for him later that morning, Mathes said, all they could find was a collection of his belongings along a dock.

The sheriff's department and Carter County Rescue Squad EMS responded to the call at around 11, Mathes said, and, within several hours, had located the man 

"Rescue Squad EMS Search and Rescue put in a sonar/radar underwater robot,” Mathes said. “They were able to find him with that. He was found ... within 20 to 25 feet from where it appeared he went in the water."

Mathes said it appeared the man's death was accidental, but that an autopsy had been ordered.

Check back here for more details on this story as they emerge.

REPORTED EARLIER:

Members of the Carter County Sheriff's Department and Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad were searching for a missing person on Watauga Lake Sunday afternoon.

Using the CCSD Twitter account, Sheriff Chris Mathes said his deputies and EMS workers responded to an undisclosed area along Watauga Lake at around 12:15 Sunday. 

Check back here for more details on this story as they emerge.

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