Three divers with Sherrills Ford and Terrell Fire and Rescue were hoping to find Cruz but after an hour of diving in 50 to 80 feet of water, it was clear something went wrong.
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Catawba County Emergency Services confirmed there was an emergency situation underwater involving three divers from Sherrills.
Other emergency workers scrambled to help the divers. Two of them were rushed to the hospital in ambulances with non-life threatening injuries but the third, Long, never resurfaced.
"It's difficult. This is one of our own that's out there missing and the other two who were hurt, they were our own,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy. “We send our best to their families and to them.”
About 15 boats responded to the area and recovered the bodies of both Cruz and Long.
“Today, Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire suffered a tremendous loss,” said Chief Rick Davis. “One of our firefighters, Bradley Long, age 28, did not surface and was later recovered and pronounced dead at the scene."
Both the Iredell County Sheriff's Office and Wildlife officers are investigating the two deaths, and firefighters were asking for prayers for both families.
Officials said the two divers rushed to the hospital were awake and alert.
Many people stopped by the boat launch Monday, hoping for good news, and the deaths are a heartache that’s shared by the local Lake Norman community.
Cruz was a father of a 2-year-old and his wife is expecting another child. His family told Channel 9 that they were in shock after they learned a diver lost his life trying to find Cruz.
“The fireman that went down there is a hero for the family,” said Oscar Hernandez. “We have no words for what happened and we really feel, not just for our family, but for the fireman's family too.”
Officials said a Charlotte Fire Department vehicle was also involved in a crash in Iredell County while responding to Lake Norman for the dive emergency. No serious injuries were reported though.