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Firefighters Recover Body Of Man Who Disappeared In Lake

Jonathan Cox

Firefighters have recovered the body of a man who apparently drowned Sunday night while boating off the Belle Isle Drive area of on Lake Norman in Cornelius.

The body of Ryan Lavar Billingslea, 36, of Charlotte, was located with sonar and recovered Monday afternoon.

Geoff Cantrell, a spokesman for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, said Billingslea was in a boat with six friends at around 7 o’clock Sunday night when his hat blew overboard. The boat’s operator, Kelvin McCray, turned off the engine and jumped overboard to retrieve it without putting on a life vest.

The current and wind caused McCray to drift away from the boat, and he began to panic and called for help. The passengers on the boat attempted twice to throw him a life vest, but he was unable to reach it. Billingslea and a female boater jumped into the water to help McCray, while the passengers on the boat called 911.

Shortly after the call, a Charlotte Mecklenburg police boat arrived at the scene and was able to rescue McCray, while other boaters in the area were able to pull the female boater to safety. Billingslea, however, had already disappeared under the surface.

His body was recovered by a dive team from the Charlotte Fire Department Monday at 2:45pm.

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