UPDATE: Crews have found body of missing Greenville firefighter

Published: Jun. 7, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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After about 2 days, search teams found the body of Greenville firefighter-in-training Gary Cox Tuesday morning.

He had been missing ever since swimming with his friends, three other firefighters, in the Tar River on Sunday.

Greenville Fire/Rescue held a special procession for Cox outside of Greenville’s Police and Fire/Rescue headquarters Tuesday morning to honor his life.

They escorted the ambulance carrying his body while others lined up outside. Greenville, Vidant and ECU police, as well as city employees, the Red Oak Fire Department and his family, joined the Fire/Rescue team to salute him.

Cox was almost 25 and training to be a Greenville firefighter. He also volunteered with the Red Oak Community Fire Department.

“It's a difficult time,” explained Eric Griffin, the Chief of Greenville Fire/Rescue. “But if I could just say personally, for who Gary is and what he meant to people, I got a real strong feeling that he meant a lot to a lot of people."

Fire/Rescue said they’re ready to offer support and counseling to whoever needs it in the department.

Many of Cox’s friends and coworkers who just found out about his death were not ready to talk, saying it feels too soon. But, their presence at his procession and in showing support and love for one another, in Cox’s name, spoke volumes.

Greenville Police are handling the investigation but say there is no reason to suspect foul play.


Search crews believe they have found the body of a missing Greenville firefighter.

Members of the Greenville Police Department and Greenville/Fire Rescue lined 5th Street outside of headquarters in a show of respect as an ambulance and fire engine passed by.

Chief Eric Griffin identified the firefighter as Gary Cox, who was about to turn 25.

Cox had been missing since Sunday when he was out on a boat on the Tar River with three other off-duty firefighters.

Officials say Cox had been swimming with the other firefighters when he disappeared.

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Members of Greenville/Fire Rescue, the Greenville Police Department, and other city employees and have lined 5th Street in uptown.

A fire engine can be seen with its ladder raised and the American flag hanging at the end.

Just moments ago, Greenville's communications center observed 30 seconds of silence.

WITN is there outside of Greenville/Fire Rescue headquarters awaiting more information on whether the body of the missing firefighter has been found.

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Rescue crews are back out searching for a missing Greenville firefighter for a third day.

The search resumed at 7 a.m. Tuesday after a full day of searching Monday with multiple departments from nearby counties.

Greenville Fire/Rescue Deputy Chief Brock Davenport tells WITN they will keep looking until they find the missing firefighter, but he says water visibility is making the search efforts difficult.

Davenport says they are asking boaters to stay away from the area under the bridge near US-264 and 10th Street, if possible. He says the currents could change the investigation.

As of 8:30 a.m., crews from Craven and Pitt Counties, Greenville Fire-Rescue, the Washington Fire Department and Rocky Mount dive teams were all assisting in the search.

The unidentified firefighter was out on a boat Sunday afternoon with three other off-duty firefighters when they decided to jump into the Tar River. Authorities say the group swam across the river and back, but one of them didn't make it back.


The search for a missing firefighter ended around 9 p.m. Monday and will resume around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The unidentified firefighter was out on a boat Sunday afternoon with three other off-duty firefighters when they decided to jump into the Tar River.

Authorities say the group swam across the river and back, but one of them didn't make it.

A nearby boater made the call to 911.

Dispatcher: "911"


Caller: "Yeah, I'm out in the river right now and I just came across somebody and they said that they've got somebody drowning and they've been gone for 2 minutes...underwater."

Crews searched the river Sunday and teams from Greenville, Beaufort & Hertford counties have been out on the river all day Monday looking for any sign of the firefighter.

"The motions are very - I mean every one of us are concerned," said Fire-Rescue Chief Eric Griffin. "I believe that right now we're, we're running somewhat on adrenaline. 'Cause we really do wanna find him."

Crews say low visibility in the river, underwater currents, and the depth of the water--some places 25 feet deep--have inhibited their progress.

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The search continues Monday morning for a Greenville firefighter who is believed to have drowned in the Tar River.

Search crews arrived back to the area of Greenville Boulevard and 10th Street around 7 a.m. That's where officials say the victim was boating off-duty when he went for a swim near the bridge around 4 p.m. Sunday. Greenville Fire-Resue Chief Eric Griffin says he never made it to shore.

A team from Hertford County arrived after 8 a.m. to assist in the search.

From Beaufort County, the Sidney Dive Team and the Bunyan Fire Department are also helping, along with boats from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

The Red Oak Community Rural Fire Department confirmed Sunday night that the victim also volunteered with their department. In a Facebook post, they wrote "Two fire houses lost a great person today. Please keep his family and his fire house family in your prayers."

A GFR spokeswoman said they plan to be out on the river all day until they find the firefighter.

His name has not been released, but his family has been notified.

One lane of US-264 in Greenville headed towards Washington is closed for emergency vehicles.


An employee of Greenville Fire/Rescue has drowned in the Tar River.

According to officials, the victim was boating Sunday evening with multiple other firefighters while off-duty when he and one other went for a swim near the bridge at the intersection of Greenville Blvd. and 10th St.

Officials said he did not make it to the shore that they were swimming to.

His identity has not been released.

The victim's family has been notified of the drowning.

Officials began the search around 6 p.m. and are still searching for his remains. If not found tonight, they will continue the search in the morning.


Greenville Fire/Rescue and Greenville Police are involved in an active search for a drowning victim in the Tar River.

Ambulances and NC Wildlife search vessels were seen near the bridge on Greenville Blvd. at the intersection of 10th St in Greenville near Sunchase Apartments.

GPD is directing traffic through the area.

WITN is at the scene and will continue to update this report as we learn more.