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Report released on teen who fell into Trent River and died

By WCTI Staff
Published On: Jun 02 2014 03:46:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 16 2014 01:14:10 PM CDT
(img1)0604 tanner webb folo

CRAVEN COUNTY -

District Attorney Scott Thomas just released a report about details surrounding the death of 15-year-old Tanner Webb, who died after falling into the Trent River.

The report says that, after a thorough investigation and interviews with all the witnesses, no criminal charges will be filed against anyone involved in the incident.

The report states the four 14- or 15-year-old males, including Tanner Webb, boarded the 22-foot boat at 3:55 p.m. on June 2 from a private dock on the Trent River. The 15-year-old driver of the boat had passed a boating safety course in July 2011, and he was familiar with the boat and the waters.

The boat passed a 2013-2014 safety examination and had the required number of personal flotation devices; the boys weren't required to wear them because they were all over 13.

The teens picked up two more 14-year-old boys at another private dock just under a mile away. The report says the group was heading to a popular hang-out spot called "The Rope Swing" near River Island Road in Jones County.

According to the DA, the boat slowed after going about 2.5 miles, and Webb moved to sit on the bow of the boat "without seats, handles or other hardware," facing forward, and after about two minutes, fell, for an unknown reason.

An autopsy reports showed his cause of death to be head trauma, due to an accidental fall, "consistent with being struck with the boat’s propeller," according to the report. It also says Webb "suffered two head wounds and several superficial body injuries."

The report states, "One of the passengers saw his fall out of the corner of his eye, and believed he fell straight down, still facing forward. That passenger screamed, and immediately all aboard felt and heard a thud, and the operator felt the steering wheel jerk. They all looked back and saw Tanner for a moment, face down in the water."

When the boat turned around, none of the passengers could see Webb. Three of the passengers jumped into the water to search for him, while other passengers called 911.

According to the report, teams using sonar found the teen's body at 11:01 a.m. June 3 in about 8.8 feet of water in the Trent River near where he had fallen. He was transported to Lawson Creek Park by a Vanceboro Rescue boat, then by ambulance to CarolinaEast Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

DA Thomas ended the report with a personal note, reading, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Webb family and Tanner’s friends, especially those who were with him on the boat at the time of this tragedy. Tanner’s tragic death has touched the lives of many people, including children and parents. It has drawn families closer together. It also reminds us that even while engaging in recreational activities in good conditions, accidents can and do happen. No one has to be blamed, but we reflect on what happened, learn from it, and continue on as best we can. Now is the time to support Tanner’s family and friends and help them carry on his good memory.

On behalf of the family of Tanner Webb, Trish and Matt Webb would like to thank all the water rescuers, wildlife officers, law enforcement officers, fire departments, search and rescue teams, and volunteers from all over the state who supported the family in finding and bringing Tanner home. They have reviewed the report and agree with the findings of the Wildlife officers and are pleased with the time and effort they spent on reviewing all aspects of the tragic accident and the way the investigation was handled with respect to Tanner, the family and all involved. Trish and Matt would like to ask the community to continue to respect and support their family and all the families involved.

I would like to acknowledge NCWRC Officers Brandon Lyon and Kyle Van Althuis, who conducted this investigation, as well as Assistant District Attorney Robert McAfee who assisted me. Also, thank you to the numerous departments, agencies, officers and civilian volunteers who responded so quickly and so earnestly in the search for, and recovery of, Tanner Webb."

PREVIOUS STORY:

Thousands of people attended a ceremony Monday morning to celebrate the life of Tanner Webb, the 15-year-old who died after falling into the Trent River.

About 3,000 people came to honor Webb at the baseball field of New Bern High School, where the 15-year-old freshman was a left-handed pitcher. His No. 5 jersey was retired during Monday's ceremony.

New Bern recording artist Bryan Mayer sang "Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor at the top of the service.

Webb's father, Mathew, spoke at the ceremony, in addition to coaches, friends and students. They reminisced about the teen's love for baseball and his playful personality.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said Webb fell from a 21-foot boat into the Trent River near Gull Pointe in River Bend before 4:30 p.m. on June 2.

Teams using sonar found the teen's body in the Trent River near River Bend at about 12:55 p.m. the next day, said Brandon Lyon of N.C. Wildlife. The body was discovered not far from where the teen fell.

Webb's body was taken to Onslow Memorial Hospital for an autopsy, although an exact cause of death has not been released.

The Wildlife Resources Commission said six people, all younger than 18, were on the boat when Webb fell. The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

The exact cause of the accident remains under investigation.

The District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case with N.C. Wildlife to determine if charges will be filed. Regardless of the decision, the name of the teen driving the boat won't be released because of age.

A fund has been set up in Webb's name, according to a family representative. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tanner Webb Fund at the First Citizens Bank near the Harris Teeter on South Glenburnie Road in New Bern.

In addition, New Bern High School students Brittany Downs and Hailey Smith have created scholarship fund in Webb's name-- to help future New Bern High School baseball players get to college.

Details are still being finalized, but soon, any State Employees' Credit Union in Craven County will be accepting donations for the scholarship.

(We will post here once the scholarship fund is ready.)

PREVIOUS STORY:

A memorial service is taking place Monday for a 15-year-old high school baseball player who died after falling from a boat into the Trent River.

The service for Tanner Webb started at 10 a.m. Monday at the baseball field of New Bern High School. Webb, who was a freshman left-handed pitcher at the school, wore No. 5. His jersey was retired during Monday's ceremony.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said the 15-year-old Webb fell from a 21-foot boat into the Trent River near Gull Pointe in River Bend before 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Teams using sonar found the 15-year-old's body in the Trent River near River Bend at about 12:55 p.m. Tuesday, said Brandon Lyon of N.C. Wildlife. The body was discovered not far from where the teen fell.

Webb's body was taken to Onslow Memorial Hospital for an autopsy, although an exact cause of death has not been released.

Brittany Downs is a New Bern High School junior and a friend of the victim. She said Webb had dreams of playing baseball at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

With that in mind, Downs and fellow junior Hailey Smith have created scholarship fund in Webb's name-- to help future New Bern High School baseball players get to college.

"Just because his dream was taken away from him, I don't think he would ever want to see it taken away from anybody else ," Downs told NewsChannel 12.

Details are still being finalized, but soon, any State Employees' Credit Union in Craven County will be accepting donations for the scholarship. An official at the credit union said they should be able to accept donations by the end of the week.

(We will post here once the scholarship fund is ready.)

"Tanner was all baseball. He was all about it and that's who we want [the donations] to go to because we know that's who he'd want it to go for," Smith said. "That's why we want to do this, so... it will just make him remembered everywhere."

Downs said she is happy to honor Tanner, but speaking about her friend in the past tense still feels unreal.

"I had just seen him that day in the hallway after our first exam and said, 'Hey,' and he said, 'I'm going on the boat because I don't have a second period review.' Within an hour or two, he's gone," Downs recalled. "Every time I think about it, it's just hard to believe his gone."

Pastor Jason Smith of Temple Baptist Church is a friend of Webb's family. He said they been on a roller coaster of emotions.

"It's going to take time. Healing is a process and they're just beginning," said Smith.

Another fund has also been set up in Webb's name, according to a family representative. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tanner Webb Fund at the First Citizens Bank near the Harris Teeter on South Glenburnie Road in New Bern.

The Wildlife Resources Commission said six people, all younger than 18, were on the boat when Webb fell. The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

Craven County sheriff candidate Chip Hughes said the boat is registered to his deceased father-in-law. Hughes told NewsChannel 12 his son was on that boat when the accident happened. Although there is no word on who the driver was, Hughes said "they had taken proper boater courses."

The Wildlife Resources Commission said the exact cause of the accident remains under investigation. N.C. Wildlife is in charge of  the investigation because the incident happened in a navigable waterway.

The District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case with N.C. Wildlife to determine if charges will be filed. Regardless of the decision, the name of the teen driving the boat won't be released because of age.

PREVIOUS STORY:

Authorities have released the name of a 15-year-old boy who died after falling from a boat into the Trent River Monday afternoon.

According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, New Bern High School freshman Tanner Webb was the teen who fell from a 21-foot boat into the Trent River. It happened near Gull Pointe in River Bend before 4:30 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said.

Teams using sonar found the 15-year-old's body in the Trent River near River Bend at about 12:55 p.m. Tuesday, said Brandon Lyon of N.C. Wildlife. The body was discovered not far from where the teen fell after search crews made a second pass in the area.

"There wasn't a lot of current so we didn't think the body would move that far. That's what led us to continue to search that area," said N.C. Wildlife Officer Kyle Van Althuise.

The body was taken to Onslow Memorial Hospital for an autopsy.

The 15-year-old Webb was a left-handed pitcher at New Bern High School. Students have created a makeshift memorial in his name on the school's baseball field.

"I mean, my heart is broken," said Gary Smith, Webb's baseball coach at New Bern High School. "One of the first times in my life as a teacher and a coach and a parent, kids are always asking for answers and I had no answers."

Officials said extra counselors were at the school Tuesday and are there Wednesday. Additional counseling will be provided as needed.

Lyon said six people, all younger than 18, were on the boat when the 15-year-old fell. The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

The Wildlife Resources Commission said the exact cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Craven County sheriff candidate Chip Hughes said the boat is registered to his deceased father-in-law. Hughes told NewsChannel 12 his son was on that boat when the accident happened. Although there is no word on who the driver was, Hughes said "they had taken proper boater courses."

The Coast Guard, boat teams from various fire departments, and Cherry Point's PEDRO helicopter spent hours searching Webb Monday. The search resumed Tuesday morning with crews from outside Eastern Carolina, including teams out of Burke and Hertford Counties, coming in to assist.

"We're just very thankful for the number of resources enacted that we had available," said Stanley Kite, the director of Craven County Emergency Services. "Many times with an incident like this, it's unusual and you're very limited."

(CLICK HERE: Photos of the scene.)

The Wildlife Resources Commission is in charge of  the investigation because the incident happened in a navigable waterway.

The District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case with the Wildlife Resources Commission to determine if charges will be filed. Regardless of the decision, the name of the teen driving the boat won't be released because of age.

PREVIOUS STORY:

Crews have recovered the body of a 15-year-old boy who fell from a boat into the Trent River Monday afternoon.

According to Brandon Lyon of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, teams  using sonar found the body in the Trent River near River Bend at about 12:55 p.m. Tuesday. Divers then went into the water to confirm.

Shortly after, the body was brought to shore and taken to a hospital.

Officials have not released the identity of the deceased 15-year-old, who fell off a 21-foot boat into the Trent River near River Bend's Gull Pointe before 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Lyon said six people, all younger than 18, were on the boat when the 15-year-old fell. The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

There's no word on exactly how the accident happened.

The Coast Guard, boat teams from various fire departments, and Cherry Point's PEDRO helicopter spent hours searching for the teen Monday. The search resumed Tuesday morning with crews from outside Eastern Carolina, including teams out of Burke and Hertford Counties, coming in to assist.

(CLICK HERE: Photos of the scene.)

The Wildlife Resources Commission is in charge of  the investigation because the incident happened in a navigable waterway.

NewsChannel 12 is working to get more details.

PREVIOUS STORY:

Crews have resumed their search Tuesday for a 15-year-old boy who fell off a boat into the Trent River Monday afternoon, and teams from across the state are coming in to assist.

Ira Whitford, the assistant director of Craven County Emergency Services, told NewsChannel 12 that eight boats with 20 crew members are searching the Trent River between River Bend and Trent Woods Tuesday morning.

In addition, Cherry Point's "PEDRO" helicopter and another helicopter from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are in the sky, Whitford said. A dive team from Beaufort County is also at the scene.

Crews outside of Eastern Carolina are heading to the area as well, including teams from Hertford County and a North Carolina Canine Emergency Response Team (NCCERT) from Morganton in Burke County, Whitford said. Side-scan sonar will be deployed once again.

CLICK HERE: Photos of the search for missing teen.

According to the Coast Guard, the 15-year-old fell off a 21-foot boat into the Trent River near Gull Pointe in River Bend. Craven County 911 officials contacted the Coast Guard at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Brandon Lyon of N.C. Wildlife said six people, all younger than 18, were on the boat when the 15-year-old fell. The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

Officials have not released the identity of the missing teen. There's no word on exactly how the accident happened.

Although local crews and teams from outside Eastern Carolina are still actively searching for the 15-year-old, the Coast Guard called off their search just before 10 a.m. Tuesday. The Coast Guard said several factors affected that decision, including the fact that the teen was not wearing a life vest and the shallowness of the water, which allowed Coast Guardsmen to cover the area well Monday.

The Wildlife Resources Commission has taken over the investigation because the incident happened in a navigable waterway.

PREVIOUS STORY:

A search continues Tuesday for a 15-year-old boy who fell off a boat into the Trent River Monday afternoon.

Ira Whitford, the assistant director of Craven County Emergency Services, said Monday night that crews will continue to look for the boy until he is found. A boat from Atlantic Beach, equipped with side-scan sonar, was brought in to assist.

According to the Coast Guard, the 15-year-old fell off a 21-foot boat into the Trent River near Gull Pointe in River Bend. Craven County 911 officials contacted the Coast Guard at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

Based on an initial report, the victim was possibly hit by the boat's motor, said Craven County Emergency Services.

Officials have not released the identity of the missing teen. There's no word on how the accident happened or if anyone else was on that boat.

The Coast Guard sent out a 24-foot "Special Purpose Craft" to help search for the 15-year-old. In addition, Cherry Point's "PEDRO" helicopter flew to the scene to help. But after hours of searching, the teen was not found Monday.

Boat crews from the River Bend Fire Department, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and N.C. Marine Patrol are still looking for the teen. The Wildlife Resources Commission has taken over the investigation because the incident happened in a navigable waterway.

CLICK HERE: Photos of the search for missing teen.

A staging area is set up at Lawson Creek Park in New Bern.

NewsChannel 12 is working to get  more details.