Landis man drowns in Badin Lake

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 2, 2011

By Scott Jenkins
LANDIS — Gerald Mitchell Gray Jr. took his son fishing several times a week over the summer, his pastor said Friday. With school back in session, he decided to go out alone on Wednesday and hauled his boat to a familiar spot, Badin Lake.
“They went to Badin a good bit,” Marler Starnes said. “He was by himself the other day. … I don’t know why he was by himself.”
Authorities haven’t made a final determination, either, about what happened that caused Gray to fall from his boat and drown not far from shore at the northern end of the Stanly County lake. Any reason given now would be “just speculation,” Lt. John Howell of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said Friday.
Gray, a 41-year-old father of two and grandfather, will be buried Sunday at West Lawn Memorial Park in China Grove. His family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. today at Whitley’s Funeral Home in Kannapolis.
Howell said authorities got a call around midday Wednesday after someone spotted an empty boat with the motor running circling on Badin Lake near the Old Whitney Road boat landing.
The boat eventually beached itself. Emergency responders found Gray’s body in the water where the vessel had been circling, Howell said. They saw no other potential cause of death than drowning.
“We heard reports that somebody heard somebody calling for help, but I did not talk with anybody up at the scene that said that to me,” Howell said.
The Wildlife Resources Commission is still investigating what caused Gray’s death and could release findings next week, Howell said.
Meanwhile, Gray’s family and friends will spend this long holiday weekend in mourning.
“They’re doing all right, but they’re just very upset and hurt,” Starnes said.
Gray was born in 1969 to parents Gerald Sr. and Anita Gray. The family lived in Concord and that’s where he met the former Sandy Lineberry. High school sweethearts, they had been married 23 years. They have two children, daughter Bailey and son Gerald, a sophomore at South Rowan High School, and an infant granddaughter named Kymber Leigh Beach who Gerald Gray was “crazy about,” Starnes said.
“They’re a good, tight-knit family,” he said. “He cherished his kids and spent all the time he could with them.”
Gray worked at Williams Electric Co. in Charlotte. In his free time, he liked to hunt and fish and work on cars, Starnes said. He and his son had just finished rebuilding an engine for the younger Gerald’s pickup.
Starnes, who will preach Gray’s funeral Sunday, said he will remember him as “just a good person. He was a good man.”