Friends of drowning victims try to make sense of the accident

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

A day at the lake turned deadly for two young men over the weekend.

29-year-old Ibea Outley and 24-year-old Christopher Wimberly drowned Saturday afternoon, June 17, while fishing at Lake Thurmond.

News 12 spoke with the men who were with them when it happened to find out just went wrong.

It was supposed to have been a day filled with new memories. Instead, it turned into a day this group of friends would all like to forget.

According to the friends, they'd been fishing a few hours when they decided to wade to fish in what they thought was shallow water.

Little did they know it would be a decision they'd all soon regret.

A moment of playful fun quickly turned into panic and chaos--their friend and co-worker Ibea Outley was drowning.

The best swimmer of the group, Mikell Clifton, went in to rescue him.

"If I'd had my lifejacket, I could've easily given it to him," Mikell says.

But it was already too late. "I tried to get him back, but I couldn't."

And somewhere in the midst of it all, they believe, Christopher Wimberly had also gone under.

"The commotion that was going on, you know, no one was watching, don't know 100% really what happened," says Mikell.

"Chris had a big heart. He'd see someone else try and he tried to help too," says Herschel Phillips.

"What if this would've happened, or if that it would've meant a different outcome...that's the worst thing I have to live with," Mikell says.

And for others, like Ibea's girlfriend, it will be the constant reminder of what her life could've been with a man she was soon to wed.

"Herschel called and told me he was drowned," she said, crying.

"Several lessons learned," Herschel says. "The water plays no mercy. But more than that, be thankful for what you got."

The autopsy report shows there was no foul play in the men's deaths and ruled them accidental drownings.

His friends say Christopher Wimberly slipped under the water quietly. That's something many people don't know about drowning: in many cases, you don't even know the person's in trouble.

Safety experts say drowning is often quiet and quick, and that's why it can be so difficult to save victims in water like Lake Thurmond.


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