A missing kayaker was found unharmed Thursday (July 4). At 4:26 p.m. Thursday Morganton Public Safety officers responded to a call at the Catawba River Greenway near Judges Riverside Restaurant, the call was in reference to a missing kayaker. The father of the missing 15-year-old boy told police that his son, who is an experienced kayaker, did not exit the river at the designated point on Watermill Road with the others in his party. His friends said he had floated downstream around a bend in the river ahead of them and missed the exit point.
Public Safety officers and fire department officials staged at different points along the river in the city and spoke to anyone in the area about having seen the boy. It was quickly determined that the kayaker had not come past the dam and spillway at the city's water treatment plant. Officers changed locations to points at and above the spillway to search for the boy. Burke County Rescue and Emergency Management assisted.
At 4:56 p.m. an officer saw a young man walking away from the river toward a tree nursery off NC 126 about 350 yards above the spillway. Both officers called out to the boy and identified him as the missing teenager. All officials were notified that the missing kayaker had been found safe. Officers ensured the teenager was not injured or suffering any medical issues from the heat. An officer assisted the teen with recovering his kayak and fishing gear, then the officers led the boy out of the woods to the patrol vehicles where they waited. Morganton Public Safety thanked all responding agencies and civilians who assisted in the search.