A body was recovered from Winston Lake on Tuesday morning about 24 hours after a man went swimming and never resurfaced.
The body, which has not yet been identified, was found at 11:26 a.m. in the water, but “very close to the shore,” said August Vernon, Forsyth County Emergency Management director. It was unclear how deep the water was where the body was found.
“Based on the efforts of all agencies involved, a body has been located within the lake,” said Capt. Mike Weaver with the Winston-Salem Police Department. “It has been recovered, and there are ongoing efforts to positively identify who that person is.”
The body has been sent to the medical examiner’s office, Weaver said Tuesday during a joint news conference of the Winston-Salem police and fire departments and Forsyth County Emergency Management at the entrance to Winston Lake.
Emergency personnel said a description of the body would be speculative and premature because being underwater can modify the appearance of a body.
Police declined Tuesday afternoon to classify the death as a drowning.
“It’s too early to speculate on that,” Weaver said. “We need to wait on some information from the medical examiner’s office, make sure there are no other signs of foul play or other causes of death.”
The extensive search for the missing swimmer began around 10:30 a.m. Monday after a person fishing made the report.
Fire department officials said the man’s clothes, which did not include identification, were found on a bank by the lake.
The search continued until about 8 p.m. with a swift-water rescue team and sonar, which can detect objects underwater.
“Based on eyewitness reports, they saw an individual go into the lake, they did not see an individual come back out, which triggered the emergency response,” Vernon said.
After dark, teams continued to search the shoreline but did not find anything.
Battalion Chief Robert Wade said the search resumed Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. with 32 personnel and three underwater sonars.
“This isn’t like the Caribbean. You literally can’t see one inch in front of your face so sonar helps us get a better look,” Vernon said.
The lake is as deep as 12 to 18 feet in some places, he said, and sonar helped locate the body Tuesday morning.
Swimming is not allowed in any city lake, and signs are posted with that information, said William Royston, the director of the Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department.
Emergency crews from Winston-Salem, Lewisville, High Point and Madison aided in the search.
“It’s always sad anytime a life is lost. I’m grieving for the family,” said Annette Scippio, the Winston-Salem City Council member for the East Ward, who attended the news conference. “This is a tragedy.”