UPDATE: Clarks Hill Lake drowning victim identified

Man drowns at Clarks Hill Lake. Third drowning of the weekend.
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Monday, June 24, 2013

CLARKS HILL, Ga. (WRDW) -- The man who drowned at Clarks Hill Lake on Sunday has been identified.

Billy Sims Jr., 26, was an officer in the Navy stationed at Fort Gordon.

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, June 23, 2013

CLARKS HILL, Ga. (WRDW) -- A 26-year-old man drowned while swimming with a group of friends at Clarks Hill Lake, making this the third drowning death of the weekend.

It started out as a beautiful Sunday afternoon with some friends having dinner at Thurmond Lake at the West Dam.

"A black male in his late 20s," said First Class Ranger Bobby Timmerman.

Timmerman says the victim and a couple of friends swam out of the roped-off swimming area over to a nearby buoy.

"They swam to it and were on their way back when they noticed that one of their friends didn't make it," he said.

It happened around 5 p.m.

"For reasons unknown, he started panicking and went under and just never resurfaced," Timmerman said.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office called the Dive Team in and they found his body around 7 p.m.

This drowning marks the third in our area in just one weekend, but it marks the first on the Georgia side of this particular lake.

"We haven't documented any on the Georgia side of Clark Hill," Timmerman said. "I think South Carolina has had a few."

Now, Timmerman just hopes others will stay careful when visiting large bodies of water.

"Any time you're there, if there's a designated swimming area, you need to stay in that designated swimming area," Timmerman said. "We just ask people to be aware of your surroundings in stay in the swimming areas."

Investigators say they aren't yet sure of exactly what caused him to drown, but they do not believe alcohol was a factor.

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