UPDATED: SCS issues statement on teen’s death, plans for Tuesday

Published 1:19 pm Monday, September 4, 2023

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A teenager from Locust drowned Sunday afternoon in a Chatham County lake.

Kevin Lopez, 13, of Locust was the victim, according to a press release from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. at Jordan Lake’s Parkers Creek Beach, 351 Parkers Creek Beach Road. There were no signs of foul play, Sheriff’s Office investigators determined.

“We are aware that one of our students has tragically lost their life in a drowning incident in another county,” Dr. Jarrod S. Dennis, superintendent of Stanly County Schools, said. “We are devastated by this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the student’s family during this difficult time. We will have additional staff and resources at West Stanly Middle School on Tuesday to help students and staff grieve and process this devastating news.”

West Stanly Middle School posted a graphic of a Colt, the school’s mascot, with the words “Colt STRONG” on its Facebook page.

The teen’s death marked the ninth drowning in Jordan Lake this year, and the incident is a stark reminder of the need for vigilance and responsible water recreation practices, Sheriff Mike Roberson said.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,” said Roberson. “This unfortunate incident serves as a poignant reminder that water safety should always be a top priority, especially during holiday weekends when waterways are bustling with activity.”

Roberson strongly encourages the use of life jackets when enjoying recreation in water.

“Wearing a life jacket is a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of accidents while enjoying the water,” Roberson said. “We want everyone to enjoy the water, have fun, and fellowship, but water can be dangerous if we do not prepare for the hazards it can create. Our goal is to ensure that those enjoying the lake return home safely.”

In addition to life jackets, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office recommends the following water safety tips:

• Always have a designated adult responsible for watching children near water. Drowning can happen quickly and silently.

• Stay in designated swimming areas.

• Enroll in swimming lessons to enhance water competence and confidence.

• Avoid alcohol and impairing drugs when participating in water activities. Impairment can lead to poor judgment and coordination.

• Keep an eye on weather conditions and avoid water activities during storms or adverse weather.

• If boating, ensure all safety equipment, including life jackets, is on board and in good condition. Follow boating regulations and guidelines.