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Body of father who tried to save son recovered in Neuse River

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 9:56 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 12:59 PM EDT
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WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Authorities say they have recovered the body of a missing father, two days after his son was found in the Neuse River.

Search crews in Wayne County found the body of Sterling Holman just before noon, a week after his son fell in the river. The father jumped in the water in an attempt to save Braylin Holman last Wednesday night.

The two, along with a seven-year-old brother, had been fishing at the Goldsboro Boat Ramp.

The five-year-old’s body was recovered Monday afternoon.

Both bodies were found between the boat ramp and the U.S. 117 bridge, which are less than a half-mile apart.

Search and rescue crews from at least four counties helped with the search and recovery of the father and son.

MONDAY UPDATE

Wayne County authorities say search crews this afternoon found the body of a missing 5-year-old in the Neuse River.

Wayne County spokesman Joel Gillie says around 2:00 p.m. they located the body of Braylin Holman.

The boy and his father, Sterling Holman, have been missing since Wednesday night when the 5-year-old fell off the Goldsboro Boat Ramp while fishing and his father jumped in to save him.

The search resumed Monday morning. Gillie says K9 teams searched first this morning, followed by boats from five different departments and a helicopter from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Search efforts for the father are continuing.

WITN found a Go Fund Me page, made to assist the wife and mother of Braylin and his father.

The fundraising page says this money would help the mother whose husband was the sole support of her and her 5 children.

The page goes on to say that continued prayers are encouraged for the family during this time.

SUNDAY STORY

The fourth day of the search for a missing 5-year-old and his father in the Neuse River continued on Sunday.

Wayne County spokesman Joel Gillie said the search was suspended during the weather on Saturday evening when several counties were under a severe weather watch or warning. However, the search resumed after it was clear and there are no major updates as of Sunday afternoon, according to Gillie.

SATURDAY UPDATE

Several crews are continuing the search for a missing 5-year-old and his father in the Neuse River on Saturday.

Wayne County spokesman Joel Gillie said operations started at 8 a.m. on Saturday with K9 and water searches.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Arr-Mac Water Rescue, Seven Springs VFD, and Wayne County EMS are on scene.

Officials say the boy fell off the Goldsboro Boat Ramp while fishing with his father Wednesday night. The father jumped in after him.

The witness that called 911 says the five-year-old’s brother, who is seven, was with them and saw the whole thing.

FRIDAY UPDATE

Friday marks the start of the second full day of searching the Neuse River for a father and his five-year-old son.

As of 9 a.m., Wayne County Spokesman Joel Gillie says crews were back out searching the river.

Those crews include the Arr-Mac Water recovery Team, the Wayne County and Johnston County sheriff’s offices, and North Carolina Wildlife were searching the river.

Officials say the child fell off the Goldsboro Boat Ramp while fishing with his father Wednesday night. The father jumped in after him.

The witness that called 911 says the five-year-old’s brother, who is seven, was with them and saw the whole thing.

The river is moving between 3-4 miles per hour and is 10 feet deep in the area where the two were last seen.

THURSDAY UPDATE

The search continues for a father and his five-year-old son who officials say fell off a boat ramp into the Neuse River Wednesday night.

Wayne County spokesman Joel Gillie says more departments helped Thursday in the search. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit is also assisted with the search.

Gillie says seven to eight boats were in the river today from several counties searching for the two.

Thursday afternoon, officials released the initial 911 call reporting what happened.

“The 5-year-old fell off the dock and his daddy told him ‘grab the net, buddy, grab the net’,” a woman told 911. “And because the current goes to the left, the current pushed the baby away. The daddy jumped in the water behind him”.

The woman told a dispatcher that her husband’s friend was in his boat and tried to save the father, but couldn’t grab his hand in time and the father went under as well. The five-year-old’s older brother, who is seven, was with them and saw the whole thing.

The river is moving between three and four miles per hour and is ten feet deep in the area where the two were last seen. Gillie said dive teams are trained to look at how quickly things move and figure out where the best chances of finding someone would be.

Last night and today crews have used sonar scans and with additional resources, they will expand the search area further down the river

Family members say the five-year-old was fishing with his dad off of the Goldsboro Boat Ramp Wednesday night when the child fell into the water and his father jumped in after him. The boat ramp is located just outside of the city limits of Goldsboro.

PREVIOUS STORY

Goldsboro 911 dispatchers say crews are searching the Neuse River at the Goldsboro Boat Ramp for a father and his five-year-old son who they say fell off a boat ramp into the Neuse River.

Multiple fire departments and Wayne County EMS were on scene Wednesday night at 2091 Highway 117 in Goldsboro. According to news crews, rescuers were in the water and looking for the two in the dark.

Joel Gillie, a spokesperson for Wayne County, says that the darkness certainly presents issues for the search crews.

“There are certainly challenges,” Gillie said. “Luckily, we do have technology that they can use that sonar for searching, but of course there are more challenges with nighttime. We still have five boats out there right now and that’s still a priority for us.”

The family is also on the scene of the search and confirmed the 5-year-old boy was fishing with his dad before both went missing in the river. The father and son did not have a boat and were fishing off the end of a boat dock. The 5-year-old fell into the water and his father jumped in after him.

A person on shore witnessed the event and immediately called police, while a boater, who was already in the water, attempted to assist the father.

Family members say they are “fighters” and have hope they will be found.

Five boats are being utilized in the search attempt, as is sonar technology because of the lack of light.

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