Officials: 2 bodies recovered from Lake Wylie in separate drownings

LAKE WYLIE, S.C. — Officials said they recovered a missing boater's body Saturday from Lake Wylie.

Chanel 9 was there Friday and Saturday as crews spent hours looking for David Napper, 59, of York. Witnesses said his boat stalled, and when Napper tried to swim to shore, he never made it.

Seven people have drowned on Charlottes' two major lakes in the last few months. Friday was another tragic day, right at the start of summer's biggest holiday weekend.

Another man drowned on Lake Wylie on Friday. The incidents happened within two hours of each other, officials said.

Lester Cook III, 40, of Clover died when he fell from a dock on Poinciana Drive in York County around 10 a.m. His body was found near the dock not long afterwards.

Cook's family told Eyewitness News he was doing contract work on the dock at the time of the incident.

"He loved the water," said Lester Cook IV, Cook's son.

Family said Cook grew up around water, including a 60-year-old fishing lake not far from Lake Wylie.

"That's the first thing that our mom taught us to do, was to swim," his sister Leigh Rash said.

A fishing fundraiser tournament will be held for Cook’s family Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Cook’s Fishing Lake located at 320 Cooks Lake Road in Gastonia. 

Toxicology and other tests are still pending, according to the York County coroner.

Search for missing boater

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources headed the search for a Napper who tried to swim to shore from his boat. Channel 9 has learned that Napper and a woman were in the boat when it broke down.

After Napper went under, the woman in the boat drifted for a long distance before she was able to get help. Those circumstances led to a very wide search area in the open channel of Lake Wylie.

DNR spokesman Robert Mccullough called the search effort a tremendous challenge.

"It's a very wide search area. It is not like you are looking for a needle in a haystack. It is like looking for the haystack, before you can even find the needle," Mccullough said.

Police and fire department boats were searching the water near the Palisades neighborhood on Friday afternoon and the search was suspended that night. The search resumed Saturday morning. His body was recovered at about 7:30 p.m.

Other boaters were shocked to learn of another tragedy on the lake.

"It’s really sad for their family," Rene Minton said.

Chris Spitzer and her family were about to spend four days enjoying the lake. She was concerned to hear the news.

"It’s upsetting, and it's not a good way to start the summer," she said.

Bill Armstrong said the lake seems to be getting more dangerous, and figuring out why is the hard part.

"You never know what happens on this lake. I don't know, it's just very strange," he said.

Roughly three times as many boats are expected out on Lake Wylie this weekend compared to a normal summer weekend. Local law enforcement and emergency officials are pushing safety and plan to be highly visible on the lake all weekend.

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