Body of missing fisherman found in Catawba River

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ALEXANDER COUNTY - The search for a missing 75-year-old fisherman ended Monday morning in Alexander County when sheriff’s deputies said family members spotted his body about 75 feet from shore in the Catawba River.

A family member told Channel 9 he was looking off the Highway 16 bridge when he spotted Chong Lee in the water around 6:30 a.m.

The sheriff believes Lee possibly slipped on some rocks and struck his head as he was getting into his canoe to go fishing.

Dozens of family members gathered at the river Monday morning, hoping to learn exactly what happened. Lee had gone fishing on Saturday morning. Later in the day, deputies suspected something was wrong when his canoe was spotted floating downstream.

The sheriff said they received help from Duke Energy -- the drowning happened near the Oxford Dam and the company slowed the release of water, allowing the river water level to go down.

Channel 9 spoke with family about efforts to find him this weekend and learned that Lee still went to work every day.

Deputies said Lee's body was found not far from where he normally puts his canoe in the water.