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Thunderstorms dampen holiday in parts of state

Thunderstorms dampen holiday in parts of state

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Lines of severe thunderstorms dampened Memorial Day for parts of North Carolina and left other parts under cloudy skies, forecasters said Monday.

“We seem to be at a lull but there is another wave of activity further west,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Rod Gonski at the weather office in Raleigh. “As the daytime heats up ... we will see another round of these storms as they head down east.”

Violent but brief storms whipped trees and power lines in some western North Carolina counties but didn’t cause significant damage.

There was a report of a tornado about five miles north of Waynesville, but a dispatcher at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office said there was no significant damage from the storm. The weather service said a survey crew from its Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., bureau may be sent to check the scene today .

A severe thunderstorm watch, meaning conditions were favorable to the storms, was issued until midafternoon for 21 central North Carolina counties. Forecasters warned of possible heavy downpours and some lightning along with gusty winds up to 40 mph. The watch also covered five southeastern counties.

A tornado watch also was issued for parts of Camden, Currituck, Gates and Pasquotank counties until 10 p.m. Monday.

Girl drowns when SUV slides in at boat launch

CHARLOTTE — An 11-year-old Statesville girl drowned when the family’s vehicle slid into the Catawba River during a boat launching over the weekend, authorities said.

The parents of Haley McNiel tried to save their daughter from their Ford Explorer, said Highway Patrol Trooper Rodney Bates.

About 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Deborah McNiel was backing the green Explorer down a boat ramp near the Catawba River’s Lookout Dam in Iredell County, Bates said.

“She doesn’t know what happened. She may have tried to brake — she may have hit the gas by mistake — she just doesn’t know,” Bates said.

Deborah McNiel managed to free herself and her 4-year-old son from the car, escaping out the driver’s side window. She couldn’t free her daughter, who was belted in the back driver’s side seat, Bates said.

McNiel’s father, Anthony McNiel, was in the family’s 16-foot outboard. He dove in repeatedly but couldn’t reach his daughter. Murky, muddy water made visibility poor.

The SUV rolled with the driver’s side down, Bates said. Volunteer firefighters who recovered Haley’s body said the girl was unbelted and may have tried to free herself.

Robbers take $25,000 worth of merchandise

GREENSBORO — Someone stole $25,000 worth of jerseys, hats, accessories and other clothing from a Greensboro store, police said.

About 7 a.m. Monday, officers responded to a reported burglary at Shining Star Fashion at 2804 Randleman Road, police said.

Someone had thrown a large rock through the store’s front window to gain entry and steal the clothes, police said.

The damage to the window was estimated at $1,000.

Woman injured in robbery

attempt in fair condition

BURLINGTON — A Burlington woman injured during an attempted armed robbery over the weekend remained in fair condition at UNC Hospitals Monday.

Around 10:49 p.m. Saturday, 60-year-old Bonnie Garner was attacked while walking through Robertson Park in Burlington. She was returning home from a store on Rauhut Street.

A man knocked Garner to the ground and hit her in the head several times with a blunt object, Burlington police said. The suspect is described as a 5-foot-3-inch black man with short hair and wearing a long-sleeved black T-shirt and white tennis shoes. He left the park after the attack, according to reports.

Garner managed to walk to her home, police said.

A personal item, which police did not identify, may have been the target of a theft but it was found at the scene.

— Staff and Wire Reports

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