Swimmer dies after jumping off boat at popular Lake Norman sandbar

The Huntersville Fire Department said on Sunday morning that a missing swimmer’s body was recovered on Lake Norman.

North Carolina Wildlife officials said 27-year-old Miles Merritt went missing on July 4 when he jumped off a pontoon boat anchored at a popular sandbar. Crews searched for him through the weekend until his body was found around 11 p.m. Saturday.

A boater told Channel 9′s Almiya White he was out on the water when the search was underway.

“I saw the first responders and it was before they had asked all the people to leave, so there were still quite a few boats out when we saw the lights,” Daniel McClish said.

McClish said he wasn’t far from the sandbar where first responders started searching on Thursday afternoon. From Chopper 9 Skyzoom, we could see the Huntersville Fire Department helping the Cornelius Fire Department with the search again Friday.

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“I just feel really, really bad for the family,” McClish said. “They went out to have a good time and they came home missing somebody.”

Officials said they used sonar equipment to locate Merritt.

“Just dealing with boat traffic. We’re just trying to keep everyone out of the area,” said Kristofer Blankenship with North Carolina Wildlife. “We’re trying to keep the water as clear as possible so the fire department can do their job.”

Mike Neuzzolese said he’s out on the water multiple times through the week and advocates for proper safety gear.

“Life vests, put them on,” he said. “If you’re in the water, put them on.”

“Unlike the ocean where you float, the lake will pull you down.”

Neuzzolese said Friday he was thinking about the closure the swimmer’s loved ones were missing then.

“I hope they could find the person and have closure with that,” he said. “Not [finding] the body is not a good thing. So I just hope they continue to do their search, and they’re successful.”

(WATCH BELOW: Search suspended for missing swimmer on Mountain Island Lake)

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