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Neighbors who witnessed fatal Lake Anna drowning describe tragic scene

Posted at 12:28 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 00:38:39-04

LOUISA COUNTY, Va.-- Neighbors who witnessed the fatal boat collapse and consequent drowning of a Deep Run High School student in Lake Anna say that they helped to search for his body after aiding in rescuing other students aboard the boat.

Deep Run junior and football standout Gabe Henderson drowned on Monday evening after a fishing boat he was on with three other students collapsed.

“It was very emotional. It was very tough to watch," neighbor Kathy May said.

Mike and Kathy May said that their neighbors watched a boat hit something in the water on Monday afternoon just after 3:30 p.m.

“Minutes later he realized that the boat was starting to sink, so he went out in his boat to see if everything was alright," Mike May said.

One of the teenagers swam to shore, and two others were pulled out from the water by the neighbor, according to May.

“One of them was in just horrible shape," May said. “He [the neighbor] brought them over and I took them from there, and then they said where is the fourth boy?”

The fourth missing teenager was Gabe Henderson, a junior and talented Football and Basketball player at Deep Run.

“I then put my boat in the water and we couldn’t find him," May said.

May said the water was rough on Monday and that made the search much harder.

“Yesterday was a very very windy day," May said. “There were white caps, from the waves that are created by the wind as far as you could see.”

"We are unsure at this point how the boat started picking up water," said Paige Pearson, a public information officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Divers pulled Henderson's body from the water about five hours after the initial call for help.

"Just had no idea that this was how the story was going to end," May said.

"For today, to look out there and to realize what happened out there, I’m not over it yet," May said. "And it’ll take awhile."
Divers recovered the center console boat. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

It's unclear whether the teenagers were wearing life jackets.