MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Search crews called off their underwater search late Sunday after more than 14 hours of looking for a man who jumped off his boat in Lake Norman Saturday afternoon.
Nearly a dozen agencies scanned the waters for the man, some using SONAR underwater equipment, said a statement from Chief Roger Hoover of Mount Mourne Volunteer Fire Dept.
They searched for more than three hours Saturday evening, and then again Sunday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. without finding anything, said Hoover.
He said shoreline and water surface searches will continue daily, but the underwater searches are complete.
The man's friends drove their boat to a private dock at the end of Keats Road, off Templeton Road southwest of Mooresville, Saturday and called for help.
The friends told other boaters the man jumped overboard as a "joke."
"A boat came racing in rather dramatically to our piers and the guys were very upset," said neighbor Skip Grimes. They "said a gentleman had jumped off the boat and had not resurfaced," said Grimes.
The men spoke only Spanish, so another nearby boater, Sam Stone, offered to translate.
"They told me the driver jumped out of the drivers seat twice, as a joke," said Stone.
"The second time he jumped off, they're like, 'Oh you're so funny,' but then he never came back up," Stone's friend, Sam Clements, added.
Boats from eight fire departments cris-crossed the area until just after dark, without finding the boater, said Mt. Mourne Asst. Fire Chief Steve Robbins. They'll resume in the morning.
The area is across from Inland Sea Marina near channel marker D-11, said Grimes.
Stone and his friends said their conversation with the victim's friends was a sobering start to the Labor Day weekend.
"He was coming to the realization that his friend was drowning," said Stone.
"They were definitely distraught in the process," added Clements.
The men said the simple prank is a good reminder that fun on the water requires serious care.
"Everyone's gonna come out and have fun. It's the weekend," said Stone, "but you've gotta take care of your friends, yourself."
Asst. Chief Robbins asks anyone who may have been in the area and witnessed the incident to call the Iredell County Sheriff's Office with their details.
Deputies are also investigating whether the man may have swum to shore.