Family needs help to send brothers home

Of the Record staff
Posted 5/27/22

Two Honduran brothers on a family outing at the Cape Fear River Trail Park drowned after they were pulled under by the strong currents as they were fishing Monday afternoon. Friends and family tried …

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Family needs help to send brothers home


Two Honduran brothers on a family outing at the Cape Fear River Trail Park drowned after they were pulled under by the strong currents as they were fishing Monday afternoon. Friends and family tried to save them.

The body of 29-year-old Emilson Ordonez-Vasquez was recovered later that day. His brother, 25-year-old Edwin Ordonez-Vasquez remained missing until two days later.

“I am very saddened because Emilson was my friend, and I knew him for many years. I was in the river trying to help the best I could,” said Oscar Enrique Martinez Montoya, who was with the brothers when the river pulled them under.

The family is raising money to send the brothers back to their homeland where their remains will be laid to rest.

Edwin Ordonez-Vasquez came to the Dunn area from Honduras during the past year to earn money he sent to support his wife and three children who still live in his homeland.

Emilson Ordonez-Vasquez lived in Dunn with his wife and five children. He was the primary support for his family, too.

The brothers were active members of the Word In Action (Verbo En Accion) Ministries, according to Pastor Armando Siliezar. The church, at 1901 W. Cumberland St. in Dunn, is planning a fundraiser to help the family with the brothers’ funeral expenses.

The church also started a GoFundMe page at and had raised just over $1,700 towards the effort Thursday afternoon.

Day One (Monday)

Harnett County Communications Center received a 911 call for an emergency regarding a possible drowning at the park located at 1002 S. 13th St., Erwin at 3:56 p.m. Monday.
Rescue and emergency personnel from Dunn, Erwin and Harnett County responded to the scene.

“It was discovered that a group of individuals were attempting to cross a section of the river to an island to fish,” said Maj. Aaron Meredith of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. “While crossing, two of the individuals were swept away by the current.”

“Rescue units discovered Emilson Ordonez Vasquez’s body approximately 300 yards from where they were initially swept away,” Meredith said. “Rescue crews suspended the search in the evening due to weather concerns.”

Thunderstorms rolled into the area Monday evening.

Day Two (Tuesday)

Search operations resumed Tuesday morning with a briefing of all personnel at the Erwin Fire Department’s headquarters on 13th Street. Erwin Fire Chief Ricky Blackmon led the search with Assistant Chief John Wilkins and support from the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and Erwin Police Department.

Tuesday’s operations utilized numerous boat crews from Erwin, Dunn, Lillington, Summerville-Bunnlevel, Northwest Harnett, Buies Creek and Fort Bragg. Two cadaver dogs were brought in to assist. The American Red Cross was on site to provide rehabilitation food and drink for rescue personnel and the family of the victims.

Edwin Ordonez-Vasquez remained missing as the search wound down Tuesday evening.

The dive crews were getting closer.

Day Three (Wednesday)

Wednesday morning, everyone began anew with a plan to move a little distance upriver from Tuesday’s search. One of the boat crews was first to deploy and they moved up to the new search area to wait for the other boats to join them. While waiting, this crew looked around in several areas their smaller boat could access. Before the others could reach them, the first crew located the remains of Edwin under the water.

A diver retrieved his body.

Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats relayed the news to family at the river park.

“The family’s been notified. It’s not going to bring their child back,” Coats said. “It’s not going to ease their pain, but at least it brings closure for them because of the unknown.”

“I want to thank all the different agencies that have come together to handle this job. I cannot say enough good things about all these folks,” Coats continued. “It’s not the outcome we wanted, but at least it will bring closure for the family.”

“Altogether, we had about 40 personnel involved over the three days of the search,” said Erwin Assistant Chief John Wilkins.

The family was grateful the rescuers found both brothers.

“We thank everybody for your time. We can tell they (Edwin and Emilson) had many friends,” Montoya said. “I would like to invite people to make monetary contributions to help the families send the bodies home. We know it is pretty expensive to send bodies home, but they need to go back to their birthplace. God will bless you for your help.”

The church is planning a fundraiser Saturday to support the family. Call the church at 919-559-4232 for more details.

Robert Jordan can be reached at or 910-230-2037.


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