Nephew of man who drowned near West Norfolk Bridge: “I knew he was gone.”

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jun 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-17 17:33:20-04

Portsmouth, Va. - Crews in Portsmouth have recovered the body of a man who went under while in the water near the West Norfolk Bridge on Monday in the Port Norfolk neighborhood.

Officials say a woman, her brother and his 4-year-old son were swimming in the area.

They say the brother, identified as 45 year old James E. Wofford, Sr., who was visiting his sister from Hampton, went into the water with his son on his shoulders.

Once in the water, the man got into trouble somehow and went under. They say he just disappeared.

Residents in the area say the water is not as safe as it looks. They say there is a dangerous drop off not too far from the shore.

"I felt sad for them, still do because this is not a good place for people to be walking through anytime. It looks safe but it's not," says Randall Provost, a witness.

The child is now in the hospital. NewsChannel 3 has been told the boy is in good condition.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with Wofford's nephew, Joe, who searched for his uncle's body for several hours.

"I knew he was gone. I just wanted to find him. It was no longer a rescue mission, it was a recovery mission for me. I just wanted to find him. It`s the only blood uncle I got. "

And he's still unsure what could have caused his uncle to sink into the Elizabeth River.

"It had to have been a slip, fall, hit his head, or he was having blood pressure problems. God chooses people for certain reasons I guess."