IREDELL CO., NC (WJZY) - A news conference was held Tuesday morning for 28-year-old firefighter, Captain Bradley Long, who died trying to recover a body during a dive rescue on Lake Norman.
He was a volunteer firefighter for Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue and worked full-time as a fire captain for the City of Newton.
Karyn Yaussy with Catawba Co. Emergency Services made the following statement:
"Captain Long died in the line of duty while working the scene of a drowning at Lake Norman. Captain Long and two other firefighters were conducting an underwater rescue operation in attempt to locate a drowning victim when they experienced an emergency underwater. Two of the divers were able to return to the surface, but Captain Long did not. A rescue effort was implemented. Captain Long's body was brought to the surface and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The two firefighters that resurfaced were taken to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. This investigation is going to be lengthy and very detailed."
One of the injured firefighters was released from the hospital Monday night and is now recovering at home. The other firefighter will be released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities said the water at Lake Norman is 35 to 75-feet deep and Captain Long's body was found very close to the original person missing.
Captain Long came from a firefighter family. His father, Jerry, was a firefighter for 25 years. Long grew up accompanying his dad to fire departments, trainings and exercises.
"First of all, I want to say thank you for your respect, please give us time to grieve. My son loved what he did. He was passionate about what he loved. I want to say thank you to our brothers at Sherrills Ford Fire Dept. They're family with us. Thank you to all the state and federal agencies that have comes to help bring Bradley home," Jerry said.
Long began his firefighting career as a junior firefighter at Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue when he was 14-years-old. He became a part-time firefighter for Newton Fire Dept. in June 2007 and full time fire engineer in May 2011. He was promoted to fire captain in August 2015.
“We are morning the loss of Bradley,” Newton Fire Chief Kevin Yoder said. “He has been a valuable part of our department, and his impact will be remembered for many years to come by the Newton Fire Department family.”
He exemplified compassion and caring for all of those that encountered him, according to Yaussy and Dion Burleson PIO for Denver Fire Dept.
NC Wildlife is conducting the investigation of the original 29-year-old swimmer, Isaiah Cruz, who drowned and Iredell County Sheriff's Office is investigating Captain Long.