At approximately 5:35 p.m., Sunday, Micah P. Laymon and a friend were swimming in Mott Lake on Fort Bragg when Laymon began having trouble and was not able to stay above water. At approximately 5:45 p.m., Fort Bragg first responders and dive operations responded to a drowning. The search operation was called off Sunday night and resumed Monday at 7:30 a.m. At approximately 10:45 a.m., the body of Laymon, 24, a civilian, was found.
While it is tempting during the heat of the summer to want to enjoy recreational water activities, it is important to note that all lakes on Fort Bragg are off limits for recreational activities. Camping is also off limits. As per XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Regulation 200-1-1, “Swimming in any lakes (unless specifically approved for swimming), rivers, and other bodies of water on the installation is prohibited.” Following these regulations is pertinent to the safety of everyone.
In an attempt to combat unauthorized recreational activities, Fort Bragg began issuing warning citations to cut back illegal swimming, boating and recreational activities.
“From June 23 to June 24, almost 150 citations were issued,” said Maj. Jeffrey Gassaway, station commander, Fort Bragg Provost Marshal Office. The citations now carry fines or could lead to Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) action.”
Not abiding by these regulations can mean a hefty fine and a criminal conviction.
For military members, this could mean an Article 92, which is “violating general order or regulation, violating other written regulation or order, failure to obey lawful order and dereliction of duty.” For civilians, this would mean being charged with criminal trespassing which carries a fine and court cost totaling $230.
“We will continue to crack down on nefarious activity on these military training lakes each month in hopes of saving lives,” said Gassaway.
Gassaway said Fort Bragg hosts 21 fishable lakes and over 40 ponds, but cannot cover all these lakes and ponds all the time. This is why signs are posted to deter dangerous activity.
“Of the 21 lakes, Mott Lake is one of the most popular,” he said. “Mott Lake is our top lake for injuries and death. It has a beach like atmosphere, with a sandy shore, which adds to its attractiveness during the hot summer months. However, there are no lifeguards for any of these lakes. Although the lakes look safe on the surface, they host many dangers, from stumps of wood to and tangles of debris.”
In order to boat on Fort Bragg, a boating license must be obtained as well as a fishing license with the state of North Carolina and a permit from Fort Bragg’s Fish and Wildlife branch.
To beat the heat and for summer recreational swimming, there are numerous options on the installation such as the Twin Lions, Tucker, Tolson and Normandy pools.