Sheriff: Missing Catawba Co. teens found dead in S.C. river

by: Torie Wells Updated:


CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - The Kershaw County coroner confirmed Monday that the bodies found in a car pulled from Lake Wateree are the two Catawba County teens who had been missing.

Sheriff’s deputies said the car Jake Ziegler and Ray Pierce were driving to Myrtle Beach was pulled from the lake off Interstate 20 in Kershaw County Sunday afternoon.

The two teens disappeared two weeks ago when they told friends they were headed to the beach.

The spirit rock at Bandys High School, where the teens were students, is painted to read, “We love J and R.” The principal said the messages of support on the rock have multiplied over the past two weeks.

The ROTC lowered the flags Monday morning for the two teens. When students arrived, the principal made an announcement for a moment of silence. He let them know counselors would be on hand as long as they were needed, and that posters would be available for students to leave messages for Ziegler’s and Pierce’s families.

Principal Timothy Woody said he's confident the school community will come together during the tough time, and hopes the tragedy reminds students to cherish one another.

“The thing about it is to remember to reflect and embrace each other, because none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow,” Woody said. “I think high school kids think they are invincible to a multitude of things. I think it’s times like this that ground us back to reality and understanding we aren't promised tomorrow.”

He said students approached him Monday morning, wanting to organize a candlelight memorial for the teens.

The coroner said both teens' cause of death was drowning.