GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A mother says a cloud of guilt lingers over her daughter and another teen after their friend drowned in the Catawba River on Monday. She's heartbroken herself, mourning the tragic loss of such a young life.
"She spent all night by herself in that water," mom Misty Dial said.
16-year-old Makenna Warlick's body was in the water for almost 26 hours before responders were able to pull her out of a crevice near High Shoals Dam.
"My daughter is heartbroken, my son is crushed, and I don't know what to do."
She says her daughter watched Makenna slip off a rock and drown in the river. Her son was also dating the teen at the time.
"My daughter said she couldn't see her but her shoes came up and floated to the top."
Monday afternoon Misty got the call no parent wants to hear.
"I could barely make out what she was saying, I just hear Hayley, water and ‘oh my God she's dead.' And I'm like ‘who is dead mamma? Who is dead?'"
She learned her daughter, Hayley, Makenna and another girl were walking along the rocks when the 16-year-old slipped and fell. She never resurfaced.
"And then my daughter said she fell backwards between two rocks and that she tried to claw herself up, but she was unable. The current was too strong and took her away."
George Schmidt was nearby. He dove in and tried to save Makenna.
"It hurts me losing her I didn't even know the girl," Schmidt said. "Just said ‘hello' and then she's gone and I couldn't help her."
Responders say this was one of the most difficult recovery missions. They brought in a generator overnight to lower the water levels, but it was struck by lightning, making conditions too dangerous for crews to reach her body.
"She is going to be so missed. She was so loved. We loved her," Dial said.
She says the 16-year-old had everything going for her.
"She could brighten up a room. If you were depressed, that little girl was not going to let you be depressed."
Now she has a message for teens looking to cool off this summer
"Buy you a garden hose, buy you a kiddie pool. Do not go to these rivers they are not safe."
First responders stand behind the same message. They say the rivers are so treacherous that they are too dangerous to swim in.
The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy on the teen in the coming days.