Wayne County officials said the boy fell from the dock and his dad attempted to save him but both disappeared in the Neuse River
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Search efforts continue this morning for the 5 year old boy and his father
Search efforts in North Carolina
| Credit: City of Goldsboro Fire Department/Facebook

A fishing trip between a father and his son took a heartbreaking turn this week after both were swept away by the current in a river.

The North Carolina dad and his 5-year-old son have been missing for more than 15 hours after both fell into the Neuse River in Goldsboro on Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate WRAL.

Joel Gillie, the public information officer for Wayne County, tells PEOPLE that authorities received a call just after 8 p.m. for a water rescue at the Goldsboro Boating Access Area.

When they arrived, a witness notified officials that a father and son — neither of whom have been publicly identified — were on the dock fishing when the boy fell into the river, according to Gillie.

In an effort to save his son, the father jumped into the water, but they were both overtaken by the current and eventually disappeared, Gillie says.

The witness, who was standing on the bank of the river at the time of the incident, immediately called 911 while another boater unsuccessfully attempted to pull the two from the water, Gillie notes.

"The water is moving, it is about three to four miles an hour," Gillie told WRAL, adding that the river is about 10-feet deep. "From the bank, it does not look all that bad, but from the bank it is always dangerous."

The Arr-Mac Water Response, Goldsboro Water Rescue, Wayne County Sheriff's Dive Team, Wayne County Sheriff's Aviation Unit, and Wayne County EMS all responded to the scene, and quickly began searching the river by boat and helicopter, according to Gillie.

Between 20 to 30 family members also rushed to the dock to help search for the pair, WRAL reported.

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Officials were forced to suspend their search early Thursday morning at 2 a.m. due to darkness but continued their efforts just a few hours later at 8 a.m., Gillie says.

A number of agencies also joined in on the search Thursday, including the Rosewood Fire Department, Grantham Fire Department, and the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, according to Gillie.

At this time, the father and son have not yet been located.

Rasheda Bryant, a cousin of the missing pair, told WRAL that the father and son loved to fish and often did it together.

"They just bought some new fishing poles, the little boy would get excited about coming out here fishing with his dad and spending time with him like that, so this is tragic," Bryant explained to the outlet. "They're both fighters, full of joy, I was just with them last night ... so for this to be happening right now seems so unreal."

"We want to be hopeful," Bryant added. "There is a God, keep us in your prayers."