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State official’s dog finds missing swimmer

josieA state official’s golden retriever found the body of an East Carolina University student who drowned along the North Carolina coast over the weekend.

Michael Peeler, the deputy for administration in the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, was walking his dog Josie along the beach at Pine Knoll Shores on Sunday evening when the dog ran out into the surf. He called her back, put her on the leash and they continued walking. On the way back, Josie went into the water again at the same spot.

That’s when Peeler saw the body of Braxton Horton, 19, who rescuers had been looking for since Saturday when he was dragged out into the ocean by rip currents while swimming with friends.

“It was less than knee-deep” Peeler told the Raleigh News & Observer. He waded in, pulled the body ashore and called 911. Even after Horton’s body was taken away, Josie remained upset and was pulling at her leash, said Peeler’s wife, Karen.

“She was very agitated the remainder of the evening and kept pulling to go back toward the beach, even after they were already home,” she said.

Horton, a 2012 graduate of Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, had been working at Camp Seagull, a summer camp for boys in Arapahoe, when he and others from the camp went to Atlantic Beach on Saturday.

After he went missing, rescue and recovery crews from Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach and Atlantic Beach police departments conducted a four-hour search in the water before suspending the operation due to nightfall.

Horton had just finished his first year at ECU, where he was majoring in biology. His family said he wanted to be a physician’s assistant.

(Photo by Michael Keeler; from the Raleigh News & Observer)

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