What began as a weekend fishing trip ended in tragedy with the deaths of two men Saturday, June 17.
Ibea Outley, 29, of Louisville and Christopher Wimberly Jr., 24, of Swainsboro were camping at Mistletoe State Park over the weekend with four friends when they decided to go fishing at Thurmond Lake.
After pulling their boat into a cove where Little River runs into the lake, the men exited the boat to wade into the water of the cove, according to McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack.
"Only two of the men had lifejackets on, and one of these two swam out into the cove and got tired," Mack said.
Mr. Outley swam out to the man struggling in the water but did not have a lifejacket on and attempted to hold onto his friend's lifejacket.¬† A third man in the group swam out into the cove after Mr. Outley also appeared to be struggling but was unable to hold Mr. Outley to pull him to shore.
Another rescue attempt was made by Mr. Outley's friends with the boat, but they were unable to hold him.¬†
"During the commotion, Mr. Wimberly was near the shore, but when the men turned around, he was gone," said Mr. Mack.
Tyler Mahaffey and Roy White, both of Wrens, were on a nearby boat and responded to the cries for help coming from the cove.
"When we got there, both men had already disappeared, so we called 911, and Roy went to get the DNR to show them where to go," said Mr. Mahaffey.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Ranger First Class Brian Adams, who has jurisdiction over Thurmond Lake as well as Glascock and Warren counties, was one of the emergency officials who responded to the scene about 2 p.m.
Dive teams from Columbia and McDuffie counties were called in, and Mr. Outley's body was recovered at 4:20 p.m. and Mr. Wimberly's at 5 p.m., according to Mr. Adams.
The men's bodies were found approximately 25 feet apart at a depth of 12 to 15 feet, said Mr. Mack.
Autopsies conducted Monday ruled accidental drowning in both cases.
"These are the first drownings we have had on the McDuffie County side of the lake in two or three years," Mr. Mack said.¬†