An empty air tank led to the drowning death of Fire Captain Bradley Long, Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell confirms.
Long was serving as a volunteer diver with Sherrill’s Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue searching for a missing swimmer in Lake Norman when he disappeared June 6. Campbell says that Long had a pony bottle, but that it was not used prior to his death. Pony bottles provide divers with an extra supply of air away from their main dive tanks.
Long joined the Newton Fire Department as a part-time firefighter in June 2007. He became a full-time fire engineer in May 2011 and was promoted to fire captain in August 2015.
Long began his firefighting career as a junior firefighter at Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue when he was 14 years old, and he continued to volunteer there.
Long was a highly-trained and dedicated member of the Newton Fire Department. He was named Fireman of the Year by the Newton Elks Lodge this year.
“We are morning the loss of Bradley,” Newton Fire Chief Kevin Yoder said. “He has been a valuable part of our department, and his impact will be remembered for many years to come by the Newton Fire Department family.”
“This is a very sad day for the city of Newton as we face the tragedy of losing a dedicated firefighter,” Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman said. “Bradley Long was loved by his fellow firefighters, and his loss is a reminder that these men and women put their lives on the line every day.”