Rescue divers train following deadly week on local waterways

At least two people have died on Charlotte area waterways over the past 4 weeks. Only FOX 46 Charlotte was there Thursday night as divers trained on Mountain Island Lake ahead of a Memorial Day weekend.

The latest drowning in the Charlotte area happened earlier this week on the Catawba River. Just a few weeks before that, a 13-year-old died on Mountain Island Lake. First responders say the 13-year-old fell off a boat and never resurfaced. 

Rescuers say there is a big mistake boaters often make that hampers their rescue efforts.

Thursday, divers from the Lucia-Riverbend Fire Department entered Mountain Island Lake just after 7:15 p.m. This time the original call was just for a training exercise.

RELATED: Drowning: Body pulled from Catawba River after boat capsized with 4 aboard

“Our goal is to hopefully have an event free weekend,” said Lucia-Riverbend Fire Chief, David Toomey.

Weather permitting divers enter the lake at least once a month. They have preparation down to a science. From the time they arrive on scene, they can be on the water within three minutes.

“We have gear already set in the boat. Once we get here and have the divers on board, we can launch,” said Chief Toomey.

Already this year area rescue teams have launched on local waterways, including Mountain Island Lake, looking for missing boaters and swimmers.

RELATED: Officials warn of dangers on the water after teen dies on Mountain Island Lake

One big mistake first responders say people make Is not knowing their surroundings their location.

“It can cause big delays for us getting to where you are at,” said Chief Toomey.

To make things less chaotic first responders recommend communicating one landmark, instead of multiple. They say it’s never a good idea to dive in after a distressed swimmer.

“You’ve got a little bit of visibility, but once you hit the bottom it’s black. You literally can’t see your hand in front of you,” said Chief Toomey.

First responders recommend if you are heading out this weekend make sure there is always a charged cell phone.  911 can ping your location or you could tell the dispatcher your coordinates on the lake.