Friends and family of the father and son, who died on a fishing trip at the Neuse River, have set up a GoFundMe page to help offset expenses the Holman family expects to face.
Family members told local news outlets that 38-year-old Sterling Holman had just purchased two fishing rods and was anxious to try them out. He took his 5-year-old son Braylin to the Goldsboro Boat Access dock at 2091 U.S. Highway 117 on March 24.
At approximately 8:02 p.m., Wayne County 911 received a call about a fishing accident at that location.
A bystander told authorities that Braylin fell into the water and that Sterling tried to get his son to grab onto a net before jumping into the water after him.
A boater in the river reportedly attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful.
Sterling and Braylin never resurfaced.
According to the GoFundMe page organizer Mandy Cruz, Sterling Holman was the sole supporter of his wife and their five children.
“She is needing financial assistance as well as clothing and food,” Cruz wrote. “We want to thank everyone that is donating and that has shown our family massive support through this very difficult time.”
Nearly 300 donors pledged almost $14,000 as of Monday.
Emergency crews from Wayne County and surrounding agencies staged a systematic six-day search on land and water that ended on the afternoon of March 31.
Rescuers depended on an aviation team, drones, sonar, K-9 and other personnel for assistance. The river was 10 feet deep at some intervals and flowed 3 to 4 mph in a southerly direction.
Rescuers found Braylin on the afternoon of March 29 and his father approximately 48 hours later.
“Such a tragic loss,” said Rep. John Bell. “My heart breaks for the family and loved ones of this young boy and his dad. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.”
Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Arr-Mac Water Rescue, Goldsboro Fire Department, Grantham Volunteer FD, Rosewood Volunteer FD, Seven Springs Volunteer FD, Craven County Emergency Services, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, NC Wildlife, NC Marine Patrol, Wayne County Public School System, Foothills Search and Rescue, Western Carolina University, REDS team and NC Sonar Search Alliance assisted in the search.
Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce thanked the numerous emergency management personnel from inside and outside the county for their diligent work.
“In addition to these agencies, I want to thank my deputies for the long hours they have put in as part of this operation,” Pierce said. “Our thoughts
and prayers are with
the family as they deal with this difficult situation. I would also like to thank the many citizens and businesses who brought food and donations to our responders during this extended response.”