The body of 39-year-old Juan Alberto Saravia Parada was recovered late in the morning of May 14, about a half-mile from where he reportedly fell into the Roanoke River on Sunday while fishing.
Gaston Fire Rescue EMS was paged to a possible drowning on May 10 near the Tailrace on the Roanoke River. Rescuers were told that Parada had fallen off of the side of the bank into the water. The volunteer fire company stayed on site until midnight Sunday.
“The main thing is, people need to be wearing personal floatation devices if they are close to the water, on a boat or on the shore,” Gaston Fire Rescue EMS Chief Edward Porter, Jr. said.
The morning of Monday, May 11, Gaston Fire Rescue EMS, Roanoke Valley Rescue Squad, Northampton County Emergency Management, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, Gaston Police Department and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission resumed the search of both the river and surrounding land, but were unsuccessful.
The search continued for the next few days with Gaston Fire Rescue EMS, Roanoke-Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department, Roanoke Valley Rescue Squad, N.C. Sonar Search Alliance, Northampton County Emergency Management, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office and N.C. Wildlife on the scene.
According to Roanoke-Wildwood Fire Chief Lorenzo Wilkins, the departments were using sonar from the boats to help locate and recover Parada. Wilkins and his six other volunteers took shifts in groups of three patrolling the water.
Wilkins said that a large chunk of river and land had been searched every day since Sunday, and the dam had moved to slow the flow of water to improve the search conditions, but the current was still strong and the water murky.
Porter said that thanks to the good teamwork from all of the 13 departments involved, they were able to successfully recover Parada’s body.
“That is where all the training and experience kicks in, and having good departments to work with,” said Porter. “That’s why we have a command system, so everything flows.”
The departments involved include Gaston Fire Rescue EMS, Roanoke-Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department, Roanoke Valley Rescue Squad, N.C. Sonar Search Alliance, Northampton County Emergency Management, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Northampton County E-911 Central Communications, Roanoke Rapids Police Department, N.C. State Highway Patrol, and Virginia State Highway Patrol.