Crews search for fisherman along Catawba River

Missing fisherman Pa Chang


by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 5:14 PM

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. -- Family and friends of 30-year-old Pa Chang have been searching for him since Tuesday night, when he disappeared while out fishing with friends. They say he walked down the shore of the Catawba River a bit to fish, and then was gone.

(Click here to view photos of the missing fisherman and from the scene of the search)

"At the time I looked back I saw him standing there but after another 30 minutes I looked back and I didn't really see him there anymore," said friend Ignacio Xiong.

So they called authorities. Around 8:00 Wednesday morning, Catawba County Sheriff's Office along with other rescue crews, searched by boat from the 1-40 bridge north up to the Lookout Shoals Dam, but were unable to get divers into the water due to water conditions.

"We're very concerned he may have had a seizure and fell into the water, and it was real swift water last night, and is swift today. It's going over the top of the dam-- 3 or 4 feet," said Sheriff Coy Reid.

Rescue crews, along with family, searched the ground area with no luck. Chang's sister Yee says he does suffer from epilepsy and has had seizures, which scares them.

"He's a very good swimmer, so if he just fell in there by himself I'm pretty sure he'll be able to come back out. He's a good swimmer but with his medical condition we don't know. That could cause him to be able to not help himself," said Yee.

The fisherman's pole was found late Wednesday afternoon, but crews are continuing to search for him. Catawba County Sheriff's Office says they plan to get more boats out when the swift water calms a bit and hope to get divers in the water as well.