Durham County

Missing Pittsboro teenager found dead in Sugar Lake

Gabriel “Boone” Cummins
Gabriel “Boone” Cummins Chatham County Sheriff’s Office

The body of a Chatham County teenager was recovered in Sugar Lake north of Pittsboro on Tuesday.

Gabriel “Boone” Cummins, 18, of Pittsboro had been reported missing around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“The unofficial cause of death appears to be drowning,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Sara Pack said. “The body has been turned over to the medical examiner for analysis.”

Searchers used boats, bloodhounds, rescue divers and high-powered sonar to try to find the teen but had to suspend their search after three days due to plummeting water temperatures and zero visibility at 40 feet below the surface, Pack said.

Members of the Chatham and Orange County sheriff’s offices, Chatham and Lee County emergency management teams, North Chatham and Apex fire departments, First Health, and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation participated in the search.

“It was determined that the lake floor is littered with old machinery and hazardous debris that would make further dive attempts a safety hazard for rescue personnel,” Pack said.

The search resumed around 6 p.m. Monday after the Sherrills Ford Fire Department offered its remote-operated vehicle.

“Such robotic devices are capable of performing searches in areas that are too dangerous for human rescuers,” Pack said.

The remote operated vehicle returned Cummins’ body to the water's surface.

“On behalf of the entire Sheriff’s Office, I extend our condolences to Boone’s family,” Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson said. “Our deputies and first responders have worked diligently to find answers. Unfortunately, the answers we find aren’t always pleasant. We had hoped to see Boone return home safely.”

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks