Friends devastated by drowning death of 20-year-old North Carolina kayaker

Matthew Ray (Image provided by Max Hurst via WLOS)

POLK COUNTY, N.C. — A man drowned while kayaking with his friends in western North Carolina on Saturday, according to authorities.

WLOS reported that Matthew Ray, 20, of Asheville, drowned in the Green River Narrows in Polk County.

Authorities said Ray got caught up in the rapids, was overcome by the force of the water and was unable to escape. He died at the scene.

The first call came into Henderson County around 3 p.m. Saturday and fire and emergency responders headed to the scene.

“I’ll never get to watch him, you know, marry the love of his life. I’ll never get to hold his kid, he’ll never get to hold my kid. I just hate that, you know?” said Max Hurst, a friend of the victim.

Two other kayakers died in western North Carolina this year, 34-year-old Burton Greer IV last Saturday on the Linville River and 50-year-old Maria Noakes on the Cheoah River in March.