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Apparent drowning under investigation

by | August 1, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: July 31, 2019 at 9:18 am

The black waters of the Edisto River were the site of an apparent drowning on July 28.
Safety forces responded to the Good Hope Landing, located north of Cottageville just off McDanieltown Road, at 2:10 p.m.
Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey identified the apparent drowning victim as Samuel Brownlee, 47, of Ridgeville. Harvey said he wouldn’t formally rule drowning as the cause of death until he obtains the results of an autopsy scheduled for July 30 at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Harvey said that he was told that Brownlee put his boat in the Edisto River and it began drifting downstream. Brownlee entered the water and began swimming to try and catch up with it.
The emergency call resulted in the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office responding with two boats and Colleton County Fire-Rescue sending a boat and four divers.
“We did not put our boat in the water, since the sheriff’s office had their boats there. We concentrated on searching the area with the divers,” Colleton County Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy said.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also responded to the emergency call with two divers and other officers, as well as equipment including a side scanning sonar sent from Columbia.
The search continued until 6:20 p.m. when department of natural resources personnel located the man about 150 feet from where he reportedly went down.
His body was recovered in approximately five feet of water.
“The visibility in the Edisto River is very limited, about 4-6 feet with dive lights. It is one of the longest black rivers in the country,” McRoy said.
The sheriff’s office closed off the landing for the duration of the search and prevented boats from traversing the river due to the divers being in the water. Contact with the divers was conducted with underwater communications gear.
The sheriff’s office took Brownlee’s family to the Cottageville Town Hall and kept them advised of the progress of the search. “It was a good team effort by all agencies involved,” McRoy said.Personnel from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are investigating the incident.

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