Wednesday, April 24, 2024

WPD, NHCSO search all day for man who jumped into Cape Fear River

(Photos by Alexandria Sands Williams)

WILMINGTON — Under overcast skies Wednesday, a search ensued along Water Street for a man who reportedly jumped into the Cape Fear River Tuesday evening. Caution tape at the end of Market Street closed off a section of Wilmington’s riverwalk as officers onshore watched marine units search the depths of the channel.

Multiple witnesses and on-patrol officers say they saw the man leap into the river from Market Street, according to WPD spokesperson Lt. Leslie Irving. He never appeared to resurface. Backup officers and fire crews were called in just after 6:30 p.m., and a search with two police boats and one sheriff’s office vessel went on well past 10 p.m.

The search had resumed Wednesday morning by 9:30 a.m. A Wilmington Police Department marine unit and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office dive team were in the water throughout the day. As of 4:30 p.m. crews were still on the scene as shoppers browsed nearby businesses and residents walked by with their dogs.

Spokesperson Irving said no clues have been found and the man’s identity is still unknown.

“Don’t know the motive because only the guy knows the motive of what happened,” she said. “There’s no way we’d know that motive.”

Irving said the current was so rough and dangerous Wednesday the sheriff’s dive team had to take a break. They were waiting for the tide to settle around 3:30 p.m. to resume the search in the water, she said.

It’s possible the man swam to safety, Irving said, but they are still searching the last place he was seen when he went under. The search will likely continue Thursday if the person is not found. If he drowned, his body will eventually resurface when it produces enough gas.

“The current is so rough and strong — hopefully we will find him,” Irving said. “We may never find him.”

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at or on Twitter @alexsands_

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