News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, May 26, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, many were out on the Augusta Canal enjoying the sun and the water, but it all changed around 4:45 p.m.
"We got a call earlier that someone was in trouble at the canal -- a possible drowning," said Batallion Chief Chris Reid of the Augusta Fire Department.
EMS and the Fire Department called in a Dive Team and investigators say the body of 19-year-old Calvin Cunningham was found about 20 minutes later.
"[He was found] about 50 to 60 feet in front of the bridge," Reid said.
Investigators say it all started when a deputy spotted Cunningham at the canal and recognized him as a former missing person.
But when he tried to make contact, officers say Cunningham fled and jumped into the canal.
Witnesses at the scene told News 12 people could hear Cunningham yelling for help, and some also jumped in to help, but no one was able to get to him fast enough.
"It's awful," said Janice Woods. "It's sad when you live right here in the canal, and you see people going swimming."
Woods says she spends most of her free time at the canal and although she never knew Cunningham, his drowning hit close to home for her.
"This is not the first tragedy we've had on the canal," she said.
Woods says her nephew's friend drowned in the very same canal years and years ago.
"The weeds was holding his feet down, that's the reason he couldn't survive," she explained.
Now, many are questioning canal safety.
"Deputies do patrol the area," Reid explained. "But it's a swim at your own risk. Just be mindful of how swift the current is."