Update: Teen dies at Green Springs Water Park

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JAMES CITY, N.C.  (WNCT) – One teenager is dead following an accident at the Green Springs Water Park on Friday afternoon according to Craven County Emergency Services Assistant Director Ira Whitford.

The agencies received the call around 4 p.m.

The teenager was at the park with another teenager who did not suffer any injuries according to Craven County Emergency Services.

Several agencies responded to the park including New Bern’s Fire and Rescue, EMS and the Sydney dive team.

According to officials, the teenager jumped off a diving section of the park into the water where he appeared not to resurface according to the Craven County’s Emergency Services. The agencies discovered the body around 7:30 p.m.

Whitford confirmed that the teenager died at the scene.

The name of the teenager has not been released.Jayson Sergotick was at the privately-owned park Friday a few hours before the young man died. “He couldn’t swim,” Sergotick said. “He just dived off. Couldn’t make it to the ropes in time and never came back up. We all freaked out.”

Another teen, Emily Hodges, also heard about what happened.“He had jumped in, and I guess he got stuck in the mud and he couldn’t get out, his friends tried to get him out,” Hodges said.Hodges went to middle school with the young man who died. “It was really sad when I found out,” Hodges said. “We were in the same band class, he was a percussionist, he never really got in trouble, he was a nice kid. He was a good person and I know he wanted to be a marine.” 

Hodges and Sergotick say the 24-hour park is swim at your own risk with no lifeguards on duty.

“I come with a friend everytime just to make sure I am actually safe,” Sergotick said.

It is something that many in the community are concerned about.

People who did not wish to be on camera told 9 On Your Side that those who run the park do not understand the dangers and that it is unsafe, especially when the tide is low.

The owner, George Wetherington, said he is saddened by what happened.

He said he is considering adding more poles in the water so people can grab them if they run into trouble.

“I have tried to fix it in such a way that if a kid would jump off this, he has somewhere to swim to,” Wetherington said.

But some people said that is not enough.

Several on social media are calling for Green Springs to be shut down, garnering mixed reaction from those in the community.

“I don’t agree with the park being shut down,” New Bern resident Cassidy Proulx said. “I feel like if kids are being reckless they are going to be doing that anywhere.”

“If you go to Green Springs, don’t dive,”  New Bern resident Amanda Baggie said. “It is really sad to see the people that have been paralyzed. I had a good friend from high school that was paralyzed from the neck down.”

“As a teenager, if not for Green Springs, a ton of us would have been in a lot of trouble,” New Bern resident Irene Small said. “He [Wetherington] saved us. He kept us entertained there so we weren’t out finding entertainment elsewhere.”

Hodges agreed that it is one of the only spots in town where young people can hang out.

Wetherington said that is what the purpose of the park is.

He said the park gives young people a place to hang out and stay out of trouble.

He said he does not plan on shutting it down.

“Where they gonna go?” Wetherington said. “The very ones in all this trouble. Don’t know where to go, right? I got them a place to go.”

People like Hodges said they think a solution would be to rebuild the park or get a lifeguard.

“I don’t think it is as safe as it could be, but we just need to maintain it better and fix it up,” Hodges said.

Green Springs has been the site of several deaths and injuries over the years. In August 2015, a Beaufort County man died at the swimming point. In 2010, a teenager drowned at the water park.

Over the years, Whitford said they’ve responded to numerous injuries at the park.

Stay with WNCT on air and online for updates as they become available.

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