‘I believe he’s still alive’: Dad holds out hope in search for teen along NC river

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – As the search continues for 14-year-old Ethan Britt along the South Fork Catawba River, his family holds onto hope.

Ethan has been missing since he and a friend were swept up in the river. His friend was rescued Tuesday, now crews are still searching for Ethan.

“He just grew up liking the outdoors,” dad Ike Britt says.

Britt says he is holding onto hope his son is still alive.

“He could’ve gotten up on the bank and got out,” he says. “They can’t find him in the water, so, I mean, I’ve still got hope and believe he’s still alive.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Crews search for NC teen who vanished while swimming in flooded river

He says he found what his son left behind.

“I went looking for him, down the creek,” he says. “They pulled their shirts off, and shorts, and went down to the creek, I don’t know how they got down to the [South Fork] Catawba River.”

Now, without answers, he and Ethan’s grandma sit, wondering.

“Teenage boys, they’re going to get out in a creek,” Myra Britt says. “But you just wouldn’t imagine them going into the rapid water like they did. But they might have been daring each other, I don’t know. Because teenage boys do that.”

Ike Britt says a trip like that would not be out of character for his son.

“He likes adventure,” he says. “He got stuck in the top of a tree one time, had to call the fire department to get him out.”

Now, as crews continue to comb the river banks, this family can only wait.

“We’re just sitting here, thinking about it,” Myra Britt says. “He’s a strong boy. If he is still alive, he’s still holding on.”

Ike tells WBTV his son talks about going into the Marines when he gets old enough.

As of 7 p.m. Thursday, officials say Ethan had still not been located.

Officials say teams will again search the South Fork River on Friday.

“This phase of the operation will again utilize swift water teams that will search by raft and on foot as the water levels have receded to just above 4 feet, which preclude the use of motorized boats in many areas of the river, a search by air with drones, and a use of sonar equipment in the area where Ethan was last seen in the water. This significant drop in water level, currently at 4.3 feet, currently has provided us an improved window of opportunity to search for Ethan,” an update from the Gaston County Office of Emergency Management read.

The family is continuing to ask for prayers from the community.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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