WILMINGTON -- Plans to have fun and cool off ended in tragedy in New Hanover County. Twenty-one-year-old Justin Toliver was swimming in a sand pit filled with water when witnesses say he got tired and disappeared. Rescue teams searched under water for Toliver's body for hours, and found it around 1:15 a.m. Toliver was last seen swimming around 6:30 p.m. A group was swimming in a body of water off Gordon Road at what's officially called Smith Creek Park, but is more commonly known as emerald lake. A New Hanover County spokesperson says the area is leased by a land mining company that supplies sand to the Department of Transportation. Robert Lakeman is concerned about water safety. He said, "This is my biggest fear about the whole lake. I've told my son, I told my daughter, I said, 'this is not the place to go swimming." A New Hanover County spokesperson says there are plans to make the area a recreational park after the mining company's lease is up in October. Neighbors say the area has been known as a party spot and the New Hanover County Sherrif's Office often responds to calls there.
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