Details emerge on how 14-year-old boy drowned in Burke County creek

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 11:44 PM EDT
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SARDIS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Locals say the Burke County boat ramp is a popular hangout spot.

“People come around here gather up and have a good time,” one of the boat ramp’s visitors said. “This is the closest thing we have to the beach down here.”

Martice Council, 14, l lost his life there Thursday night after swinging off a rope swing into Brier Creek.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says rope swings like this can be more dangerous than they appear.

“There’s a lot of things that can happen in a situation like that,” Mark McKinnon with the Georgia DNR said. “In natural bodies of water there’s so many hazards, things that you wouldn’t have in a swimming pool.”

Dispatchers received the report at about 5:58 p.m. Thursday of a possible drowning at the landing at Murray Hill Road just down from Ellison Bridge Road.

Responding units from Burke County Sheriff’s Office and Burke County EMA quickly arrived on scene. Emergency personnel determined teenagers had been playing in the water when one of them began to experience an emergency.

Other teenagers tried to render aid but were unsuccessful.

Sheriff’s investigators, Georgia Department of Natural Resources game wardens and a Richmond County dive team were requested and responded to the scene to assist. At 8:50 p.m., the body of the boy was recovered by members of the dive team.

Investigators are still working to figure out what exactly caused Council to drown.

McKinnon says the cold water may have caused a gasp reflex.

“If your head happens to be under, you can aspirate water, and that can cause you to very quickly drown if you’re not careful,” McKinnon said.

This drowning is among several in our area over the last month.

“Most people just don’t believe it will happen to them, so they don’t often take the proper safety precautions,” McKinnon warns.

The drownings happened at Clarks Hill lake last month and just last week on the Broad River in Lincoln County.

McKinnon’s best advice to avoid drowning is to wear a lifejacket and know where you are.

“Know your surroundings know what’s in the water, if you’re in a natural body of water it’s a good idea not to go in headfirst,” McKinnon said.

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