Local families of drowning victims help pay for sonar equipment

It's been more than two years since Lois Line lost her son Jacob after he drowned during a fishing trip at Belews Lake.

“Every day I think of Jake,” Line said. “I miss him every day.”

Rescue crews didn’t find Jacob’s body until 65 days later.

“It was just a very long time on our family to have to wait and wonder," she said.

Line felt that pain again this week.

On Monday, rescue crews found the body of 53-year-old Clifton Overman, who disappeared while fishing Sunday at a private lake in Browns Summit.

“I just know how that family feels,” Line said. “It makes my heart sink for them."

Rescue crews used a Sea Scan Arc Explorer to help locate Overman's body within hours.

Line's family and the families of James Bohensteil and James Bateman, who also drowned in fishing accidents, raised more than $40,000 to buy the sonar equipment.

“There were a lot of donations from the community,” Line said.

Line says the goal is to prevent other families from having to wait months for answers.

“I don't want them to even have to go for an extra minute because it is so treacherous on your family and your mental state,” she said.

A long wait family and friends of James Bateman, who went missing Memorial Day weekend while fishing on Belews Lake, know all too well.

It took 105 days for Bateman's body to be found.

“To have to wait and wait and not know, to take 105 days before his body surfaced was very difficult for everyone," said Ken Barnwell, Bateman’s employer at Commonwealth Brands in Reidsville.

The company chipped in thousands of dollars to help buy the equipment.

"The employees would just give what they could when they could," Barnwell said.

Equipment line says will never ease the pain of loss, but may help families of drowning victims get closure sooner.

“It made me sad that we had to use it,” Line said. “I was really hoping it would never have to come out of the box."