KENANSVILLE — A pond just a stone’s throw from two main arteries in Kenansville was the last place four people saw before they died last Monday.
Not far behind were the flashing lights of an N.C. State Highway Patrol car.
While Dunn’s Darien Gayle, 20, survived: Geavon Myles, 17, of Magnolia; Jordan Southers, 20, of Angier; Tavius Carroll, 21, of Dunn; and Amanda Serrano-Garcia of Lillington drowned in the submerged Ford passenger vehicle.
The chase began when First Sgt. Christopher Knox tried to stop the vehicle for speeding at 10:13 p.m. Monday on N.C. 24. He pursed the vehicle to the intersection of N.C. 24 and N.C. 11 North. Knox said the vehicle ran a stop sign off the road, hitting a fence and then caroming into the pond, which was about 15 feet in depth.
A rope saved Gayle, who was taken to Vidant Duplin Hospital with minor injuries and has been released.
The N.C. Highway Patrol’s Collision Reconstruction Unit is handling the ongoing investigation.
After a long recovery mission that involved the Kenansville Fire Department, Sarecta Fire Dept and Boat-20, the Duplin County Search and Rescue Dive Team and the Sampson County Dive Team, the car was pulled from the pond and the bodies of four people were found inside.
The driver of the vehicle had little time to think about the pond once it left the road.
Duplin County Deputy Fire Marshall Emmett Stroud said the effort of several rescue agencies and work by both local and state officials made for the best response possible, even though the final result ended in tragedy for four people.
A tow driver eventually pulled the car from the bottom of the pond.
Knox, who was pursuing the vehicle, threw the rope to Gayle, as his fellow travelers sank and were unable to get out of of the vehicle.