Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
North Carolina man drowns as pontoon boat blows away
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Wildlife Agency officials say a North Carolina man drowned in a Tennessee lake when his pontoon boat blew away from him.
News outlets report the body of 50-year-old Daryl Smart was recovered Saturday from a Jefferson County lake. Officials say wind blew Smart’s boat away as he was swimming with a woman.
Officals say Smart was not wearing a life jacket at the time and began to struggle. WYFF reports the woman who was with Smart tried to help him, but he submerged and never resurfaced. The woman made it back to the boat.
Smart reportedly drowned Friday, but emergency responders delayed the recovery amid poor weather conditions at the lake. His body resurfaced as responders were resuming the search.
Motorcyclist hit by lightning in Florida crashes, dies
DELAND, Fla. (AP) – Authorities in Florida say lightning struck a motorcyclist on a Florida interstate, causing a crash and his death.
The Florida Highway Patrol tells news outlets the lightning strike hit the driver Sunday afternoon as he rode southbound on Interstate 95, cracking the 45-year-old’s now-burning helmet and sending him off the roadway.
He was pronounced dead at the scene in east-central Florida. Florida troopers say an off-duty Virginia state trooper witnessed the lightning strike and its aftermath.
WOGX-TV says authorities confirmed the motorcyclist is a 45-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina. His identity wasn’t immediately released.
SEVERE WEATHER-NORTH CAROLINA
Heavy rain causes North Carolina flooding, causes 3 deaths
LINCOLNTON, N.C. (AP) – A chunk of North Carolina’s mountains and foothills are facing flash flooding that’s being blamed for three deaths.
The National Weather Service said Sunday that six inches or more of rain has fallen in parts of the region between Boone and Lincolnton since Thursday.
Media reports say three men died Saturday after their vehicle hit high water on a road west of Lincolnton and slammed into a tree. North Carolina’s State Highway Patrol said the occupants were trapped inside as the vehicle submerged in several feet of water. The victims haven’t been identified.
Catawba County commissioners declared a state of emergency Sunday to coordinate recovery after roads were closed by high water.
Residents of a Hickory apartment complex evacuated to a temporary shelter at Catawba Valley Community College.
N Carolina woman fatally shoots herself inside restaurant
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina police say a woman is dead after she accidently shot herself inside a suburban Charlotte restaurant.
Police say 28-year-old Madison Moore of Landis suffered a single gunshot to the stomach while visiting a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Kannapolis, about 25 miles (40.23 kilometers) north of Charlotte. She died at a local hospital.
Police in neighboring Concord say Moore discharged her own gun by accident.
Concord police say they’re still investigating the case.
North Carolina Republicans pick Whatley as state party head
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republicans want a Gaston County energy-industry consultant with lots of Washington experience to head the state party for the next two years.
The state Republican Party convention on Saturday elected Michael Whatley as its chairman. He takes over for former Congressman Robin Hayes. Hayes faces federal criminal charges that he helped a big donor try to bribe the state’s top insurance regulator to go easy on his companies.
Whatley worked in President George W. Bush’s Energy Department and was former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s chief of staff. His goal is to build up the GOP’s connections, fundraising and volunteers ahead of this fall’s municipal elections across North Carolina and next year’s elections for president and U.S. Senate.
Charlotte also hosts the national Republican convention next year.
SCUBA PARK DEATH
VA woman dies while scuba diving at former N Carolina quarry
WENDELL, N.C. (AP) – Authorities are investigating why a Virginia woman died while scuba diving at a former North Carolina quarry site.
Media organizations report that the woman died Saturday afternoon after swimming to the surface of Mystery Lake Scuba Park and citing breathing problems. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office says 49-year-old Rhonda Dalton of Pulaski, Virginia, and her boyfriend were swimming back to shore when Dalton lost consciousness.
Emergency medical workers were unable to revive her.
The former granite quarry about 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) east of Raleigh has filled with water since operations ceased more than 60 years ago. Its underwater cliffs, overhangs and fish are now explored by divers.
4 Florida residents killed in N Carolina small plane crash
NASHVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Four Florida residents and two dogs are dead after their private plane dropped off the radar and crashed into a wooded area of central North Carolina.
North Carolina’s State Highway Patrol said Saturday the four victims lived in the Naples, Florida, area and were traveling from there to Easton, Maryland.
The state patrol identified the dead as: 57-Year-old Gregory Boll; 48-Year-old Evva Leigh Boll; 52-year-old Roberta Laquidara; and 53-year-old Felix Laquidara.
A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said the agency received a report that a plane crashed about 1:45 p.m. Friday about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Raleigh. Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said the search for the Piper PA-46 started after a resident reported part of a small plane landed in their yard.
Court-ordered wall splits 2 NC councilmen after punch thrown
HERTFORD, N.C. (AP) – A small-town council is literally divided after a North Carolina judge ordered a barrier installed to separate two members who had a physical confrontation.
Media organizations reported that a superior court judge ruled last month that the wall is part of the conditions allowing Hertford town council members Quentin Jackson and Sid Eley to attend meetings in the cramped chambers. The screen kept the two men from seeing each other during a town council meeting Monday.
The barrier and a condition that the two men stay more than 20 feet apart were imposed after the 33-year-old Jackson was convicted of punching the 72-year-old Eley in the head. Jackson is appealing his January conviction of striking a government official. His punch came after a face-to-face confrontation escalated at an October meeting.