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Remains found near Oxford Dam

The body of a missing man was found Monday, August 25, in the Catawba River just downstream of Oxford Dam.
(Updated Aug. 25, 5:00 pm)
Body of missing man found in Catawba River


The remains of an elderly man, who had been missing since Saturday, were found on Monday, August 25, in the Catawba River, said Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman.

Chong Lee, age 75 of Catawba County, had been reported missing on Saturday, August 23. His pickup truck was parked at the gravel lot near the end of Wayside Church Road at the NC 16 intersection, close to Oxford Dam.

Lee’s canoe was retrieved on Saturday about lunchtime, just downstream of the NC 16 Bridge at Oxford Dam, Bowman said.

The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, local emergency personnel, and others from surrounding counties joined in searching for Lee on Saturday and Sunday. The search continued through Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

Alexander County 911 Communications received a call at 7:27 a.m. Monday, August 25, that family members of Lee saw a body in the Catawba River between Oxford Dam and the NC 16 bridge. 

Emergency personnel who joined in the search included the Alexander Rescue Squad, Alexander County Sheriff'’s Office, N.C. State Highway Patrol, Taylorsville Fire Dept., Wittenburg Fire Dept., Ellendale Fire Dept., Lovelady Fire Dept., Troutman Fire and Rescue, Sherrill’s Ford Fire and Rescue, Iredell Rescue Squad, Catawba County Emergency Management, and Duke Energy officials.

Captain Terry Foxx of the Alexander Rescue Squad stated that the rescue operation included dragging operations by multiple agencies on the Catawba River, multiple sonar scans, ground search crews, and an extensive air search by the N.C. State Highway Patrol helicopter from Oxford Dam downstream to Lake Lookout. 

Sheriff Bowman said that more than 60 persons were involved in the search, with all agencies combined. Another group of approximately 70 or more friends and family members gathered at the scene over the weekend to give support to the Lee family.

“Thank you to all those involved in the search,” said Sheriff Bowman. “The family really appreciated all the support.”

According to online media reports, Lee often went fishing in the area below Oxford Dam in his canoe. He worked at a furniture company in Alexander County.

No foul play is suspected in the case at this time, Bowman related. The body is being sent for autopsy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Visitor Comments
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Submitted By: Nick FoxSubmitted: 8/26/2014
I saw him in his canoe before he went missing. It said he went missing around lunch, so it was about an hour or two after I went back home in taylorsville when he went missing. He was on the other side of the bridge away from the dam when I saw him.

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