'I believe that he's not in the lake': Father of missing camper believes his son is alive

'I believe that he's not in the lake': Father of missing camper believes his son is alive
Jesse Sgro (Source: Find Jesse Sgro Facebook page)

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - It's been nearly a week since Jesse Sgro, 22, of Fayetteville, disappeared from a Bladen County park, sparking a massive search effort that included boats, K9 units, and other trained staff.

Sgro was on a church retreat with 40 others at Singletary Lake State Park when he vanished.

On Friday, state park staff resources, including boats on the lake and near the shoreline, continued to search for Sgro, according to Katie Hall, a spokesperson for the park.

"Local fire departments are on site, and one K9 unit is on site," said Hall. The lake temperature is 65 degrees on Friday, which is warmer than the lake temperature in the 50's earlier in the search week.

On Tuesday, Hall said the search became a recovery effort as crews scanned the lake with boats and divers.

David Sgro, Jesse's father, told WECT News on Friday he believes Jesse is still alive and not in the lake.

"We want to find him. We believe he is still out there," David said. "We believe that he is in the woods, or he is on the road. I believe that he's not in the lake."

On Friday morning, volunteers were posting flyers around Fayetteville to try and find the missing man.

The last and only clues to date are his upright canoe with his cell phone, headphones, and life jacket inside.

"Nothing. No signs. They have combed that lake," David said of the search efforts. "That lake is two miles long. It's a half-a-mile wide. It's 12 feet deep. They've had as many as 10 and 11 boats on there all stinking day and they haven't found anything."

David also addressed concerns that Jesse would run away, saying he would not abandon his family and that his life was going well.

"He was at that camp with some of his younger siblings, and he would never leave them," said David. "They were there because he had said yes. He's an adult and his friends were there. No, there was no indications whatsoever that he would run away."

David said he believes his son became lost and disoriented after having an accident late at night on the lake.

"I believe that he got out of the canoe, or fell out of the canoe, and made his way to shore," said Jesse's father. "I believe that it was raining. It was a cold night. He may have gotten disoriented. They say he did not hit his head on the canoe. They did a forensic examination of the canoe.

"There was a period in his life where he was a little out of control. But he has gotten his life together. He had just opened a new painting company."

David said it is easy to get lost in the woods of Singletary Lake State Park, which is within the 35,975-acre Bladen Lakes State Forest, according to the park website.

"Those woods are real thick, and I've been in those woods, and it is easy to get lost," said David. "I have gotten turned around with the search team. You've got to go in with three people, minimum four people. Searching, compass, marking a tree, mentally walking towards it. Even with all that, you can still get disoriented."

David is not giving up his faith that Jesse will return home safely.

"It's not over until it's over. We believe and still believe that we're going to see Jesse at the end of this," said David. "He's going to walk out of the woods laughing or he's going to be found. We're believing that."

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