Body believed to be teen who died on Catawba River recovered


GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Gaston County emergency crews have recovered the body of a teenage girl who died on the Catawba River Monday. 

Tuesday was a long and difficult day on the water. Officials say the water level, pressure and turbulence made it difficult to recover the teen’s body from the crevice in which she was stuck. Around 5:20 p.m., officials say there were able to extract the remains believed to belong to 16-year-old Makenna Warlick.

“This is the worst type of situation to encounter to do what we have to do,” said Bill Melton with Gaston County Emergency Management. 

On June 24, Gaston County Communications received a call about swimmers in trouble near the High Shoals Dam off of Old US 321. Investigators say three girls were in the water exploring when Warlick slipped and fell in an area called “Sliding Rock.” Officials say there was a “no trespassing” sign posted. 

The other two teens were immediately rescued and recovery efforts for Warlick began a short time later. Water levels were lowered at the dam on Monday, which allowed them to locate her body, but the turbulence made too difficult to recover the body. 

RELATED: 1 teen dead, 2 rescued from South Fork Catawba River

Additionally, a lightning strike from a Monday night storm shut down the generator being used to pump the water. This caused water level to rise again, and operations had to pause. 

Gaston County Emergency Management says around 1:15 p.m., the generator and begin diverting water again even though water levels were higher today.

“Conditions are conducive right now. We’ve just got to get that water diverted away from the crevice. That’s the issue we’re dealing with right now. We’ve got it down to a workable level, but we still have to go further and the next step is to divert that water however we can,” Melton said in an afternoon press conference.

This is the second time in two weeks that a teenager has died while swimming in the South Fork Catawba River in the past two weeks. 

“I say it over and over again: Stay out of the South Fork River. It is not a river that is conducive to swimming,” Melton said. 

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