Questions surround man's death
So far, no one knows why Jorge Ivan Serrano would have driven to the Castle Bridge wildlife access on Connelly Springs Road.
When Serrano, 55, left his Maple Street home in Hudson about 10 a.m. last Tuesday, he told his wife, Wanda, that he was going to visit his friend, Jim Robbins, who lives on Millers Creek Road east of Lenoir, to pick up a check from a woman the two were doing a painting job for.
But Robbins didn't even know Jorge Serrano was supposed to be heading his way until Wanda Serrano left voice mails for him, just after 11 a.m. and before noon, asking if her husband had made it to his house.
"I would have told him I would not be there because my wife had a doctor's appointment. When his wife called, I got concerned," Robbins said.
Around 5 p.m., Wanda Serrano called the Hudson Police Department. The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office found Serrano's Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck just before 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Castle Bridge access. A search and rescue operation began, and Serrano's body was found at 8:30 a.m. Thursday about a quarter-mile downstream, along the bank on the Caldwell County side, Hudson Detective Richard Blevins said. Police do not yet know the cause of death and are awaiting an autopsy report.
The couple had planned a Thanksgiving dinner for later that day.
"There was nothing in the truck to indicate what might have happened," Blevins said.
Robbins said he had no idea why Serrano would be in the Castle Bridge area.
"He had no reason to go over there," Robbins said.
Robbins was Serrano's boss for eight years at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, where Serrano had worked in maintenance. The pair became fast friends and in the last few years also did contract jobs together.
"He was the best friend I ever had," Robbins said. "We had a great working relationship and friendship. He was a happy guy, he always wanted to help someone. If you gave him $10, he'd give back $9 and keep the $1. That's just how he was."
Serrano moved with his family from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Brooklyn, N.Y. when he was 11, Wanda Serrano said. She met him in 1989, after the lamp factory he worked for transferred him to Hickory, where he worked in shipping and she was a line operator. They married on April 20, 1993, and were inseperable.
He left the lamp factory and began working at CCC&TI for several years, and for the past year and a half at C&R Plumbing and Heating in Lenoir.
He left an impression with everyone he met, including their pet Chow "Butterball," Wanda Serrano said.
"He was crazy over Butterball," Wanda said. 'He was a devoted husband and a loving stepfather to my three girls (ages 46, 45 and 42), my two grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Everybody he came across loved him."
He also had a daughter from a previous marriage.
Wanda Serrano said she remains stunned.
"This is devastating," she said. "We'd known each other for 24 years. His funeral is the last thing I can do for him. I know when I finish with this reality will set in."