MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Investigators say an unplugged drainage hole on a bass boat caused it to sink in Lake Norman and kill a father on a fishing trip with his son.
53 year-old Herbert James from Mocksville drowned in about 35 feet of water when he went down with the boat Monday night. He was not wearing a life jacket.
James' son and another man survived by hanging onto a floating cooler, then were rescued by a nearby boater who heard the screams for help. Neither men wore a life jacket, investigators said.
The life jackets were under a seat and not accessible as the boat sank quickly, investigators said Tuesday.
"Evidently they left the plug out of the boat and it took on water about 100 yards off the ramp," said Master Enforcement Officer Ron Robertson with North Carolina Wildlife.
Dennis Huffstickler owns the boat that sank. He loaned it to Herbert James' son, so the son could take James on a night fishing trip as a Fathers Day gift.
"I feel horrible about it. I feel partially responsible being it's my boat and I was trying to let him show his dad a good time for Fathers Day and it just went bad, fast," Huffstickler said. "His family is in my prayers."
James' son tried to get the boat back to shore. The boat only had a trolling motor on it instead of a larger outboard motor.
State law says there must be one life jacket per person on a boat, but adults are not required to wear them.
Kids 12 and under are required to wear life jackets.