LAKE NORMAN, N.C. -- There have been four drowning deaths on Charlotte area lakes in just over a week, the most recent of which was on Sunday, and claimed the life of a 27-year-old woman.
Shakira Varner was on a private dock, fell off and never resurfaced, according to investigators. Emergency responders arrived quickly, pulling Varner from the bottom of the lake within 10 minutes. However, it was too late, and she was never revived.
It is not clear if Varner could swim. Her death is still an active investigation.
"Live, love life and be happy," is one of the final posts on Varner's Facebook page.
Friends and family posted on social media about her kindness, spirit and how much she will be missed. Varner is the third person to drown on Lake Norman sine the start of June. A fourth person drowned on Lake Wylie last week.
"It has been a pretty rapid start to the summer, considering we are only just a few weeks into the summer," said Sgt. William Laton with NC Wildlife. "We would like to see it stop and let people have fun without any injury or loss of life."
Chris Lundston is a regular on Lake Norman. She launched her boat at Ramsey Beach.
"I have extra life jackets in all different sizes," she said.
Sgt. Laton says many deaths on the lakes are preventable.
"Anytime we see someone drown, we feel like it could've been prevented, and that is our goal to prevent people from drowning, whether they are swimming or in a boat accident. We want people to remain safe," Sgt. Laton explained.
Sgt. Laton says often swimmers are over confident about their abilities.
"If you find yourself in a distressed situation, your ability to swim is not going to be near as good as it is under normal circumstances," he explained.
Adding wind or wakes from boat traffic to the mix can make things more challenging.
"I've been on the lake before when the wind has taken the boat far away and I've had to leave a less strong swimmer, swim back and bring the boat back to get them," said Lundston.
However, sometimes there isn't enough time to go back. This is why Sgt. Laton stresses the importance of life jackets.
"Just having it just isn't enough anymore. You have to wear it to be safe, much like a seatbelt in a car," he said. "Oftentimes we investigate accidents where there is no doubt the person would have survived or never even become injured if they simply had a life jacket on."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover the funeral expense for Shakira Varner.
@CorneliusPD investigating a fatal drowning off Island Forest Dr. Victim info not being released due to notification of next of kin.— Cornelius PD (@CorneliusPD) June 13, 2016
This the third death in Lake Norman in the last week; the other two victims included Fire Captain Bradley Long and Isaiah Cruz, a 29-year-old swimmer who went missing Sunday. Long died last Monday while searching for the body of Cruz in Lake Norman.