District Attorney Scott Thomas just released a report about details surrounding the death of 15-year-old Tanner Webb, who died after falling into the Trent River.
The report says that, after a thorough investigation and interviews with all the witnesses, no criminal charges will be filed against anyone involved in the incident.
The report states the four 14- or 15-year-old males, including Tanner Webb, boarded the 22-foot boat at 3:55 p.m. on June 2 from a private dock on the Trent River. The 15-year-old driver of the boat had passed a boating safety course in July 2011, and he was familiar with the boat and the waters.
The boat passed a 2013-2014 safety examination and had the required number of personal flotation devices; the boys weren't required to wear them because they were all over 13.
The teens picked up two more 14-year-old boys at another private dock just under a mile away. The report says the group was heading to a popular hang-out spot called "The Rope Swing" near River Island Road in Jones County.
According to the DA, the boat slowed after going about 2.5 miles, and Webb moved to sit on the bow of the boat "without seats, handles or other hardware," facing forward, and after about two minutes, fell, for an unknown reason.
An autopsy reports showed his cause of death to be head trauma, due to an accidental fall, "consistent with being struck with the boat’s propeller," according to the report. It also says Webb "suffered two head wounds and several superficial body injuries."
The report states, "One of the passengers saw his fall out of the corner of his eye, and believed he fell straight down, still facing forward. That passenger screamed, and immediately all aboard felt and heard a thud, and the operator felt the steering wheel jerk. They all looked back and saw Tanner for a moment, face down in the water."
When the boat turned around, none of the passengers could see Webb. Three of the passengers jumped into the water to search for him, while other passengers called 911.
According to the report, teams using sonar found the teen's body at 11:01 a.m. June 3 in about 8.8 feet of water in the Trent River near where he had fallen. He was transported to Lawson Creek Park by a Vanceboro Rescue boat, then by ambulance to CarolinaEast Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
DA Thomas ended the report with a personal note, reading, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Webb family and Tanner’s friends, especially those who were with him on the boat at the time of this tragedy. Tanner’s tragic death has touched the lives of many people, including children and parents. It has drawn families closer together. It also reminds us that even while engaging in recreational activities in good conditions, accidents can and do happen. No one has to be blamed, but we reflect on what happened, learn from it, and continue on as best we can. Now is the time to support Tanner’s family and friends and help them carry on his good memory.
On behalf of the family of Tanner Webb, Trish and Matt Webb would like to thank all the water rescuers, wildlife officers, law enforcement officers, fire departments, search and rescue teams, and volunteers from all over the state who supported the family in finding and bringing Tanner home. They have reviewed the report and agree with the findings of the Wildlife officers and are pleased with the time and effort they spent on reviewing all aspects of the tragic accident and the way the investigation was handled with respect to Tanner, the family and all involved. Trish and Matt would like to ask the community to continue to respect and support their family and all the families involved.
I would like to acknowledge NCWRC Officers Brandon Lyon and Kyle Van Althuis, who conducted this investigation, as well as Assistant District Attorney Robert McAfee who assisted me. Also, thank you to the numerous departments, agencies, officers and civilian volunteers who responded so quickly and so earnestly in the search for, and recovery of, Tanner Webb."
Thousands of people attended a ceremony Monday morning to celebrate the life of Tanner Webb, the 15-year-old who died after falling into the Trent River.
About 3,000 people came to honor Webb at the baseball field of New Bern High School, where the 15-year-old freshman was a left-handed pitcher. His No. 5 jersey was retired during Monday's ceremony.
New Bern recording artist Bryan Mayer sang "Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor at the top of the service.
Webb's father, Mathew, spoke at the ceremony, in addition to coaches, friends and students. They reminisced about the teen's love for baseball and his playful personality.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said Webb fell from a 21-foot boat into the Trent River near Gull Pointe in River Bend before 4:30 p.m. on June 2.
Teams using sonar found the teen's body in the Trent River near River Bend at about 12:55 p.m. the next day, said Brandon Lyon of N.C. Wildlife. The body was discovered not far from where the teen fell.
Webb's body was taken to Onslow Memorial Hospital for an autopsy, although an exact cause of death has not been released.
The Wildlife Resources Commission said six people, all younger than 18, were on the boat when Webb fell. The teen was reportedly not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.
The exact cause of the accident remains under investigation.
The District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case with N.C. Wildlife to determine if charges will be filed. Regardless of the decision, the name of the teen driving the boat won't be released because of age.
A fund has been set up in Webb's name, according to a family representative. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tanner Webb Fund at the First Citizens Bank near the Harris Teeter on South Glenburnie Road in New Bern.