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CSRA’s latest drowning victim mourned as ‘strong, Christian man’

Published: May. 27, 2021 at 8:20 AM EDT|Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 8:21 AM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Authorities this morning released the name of a man who drowned Wednesday night at the Euchee Creek Trails.

Mikell Waters, 24, of Grovetown, was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:40 p.m., according to Columbia County Coroner Vernon W. Collins.

Grovetown Public Safety Chief Scott Wheatley says dispatchers received a call at approximately 7 p.m. regarding a male who was swimming in the quarry when he went under and did not resurface.

The Euchee Creek Trails were closed until further notice.

Waters’ mother, Jessica, said he “loved his family fiercely, and he was always the life of the party. He was a strong, Christian man.”

She said he “could light up a room with his smile, and he had a contagious laugh with a silly grin.”

Mikell Waters, 24, of Grovetown
Mikell Waters, 24, of Grovetown(WRDW)

CSRA copes with an increase in drownings

Walters was the sixth person to die in our local waterways in just a month.

Authorities told News 12 a few days ago that the uptick in drownings could indicate more people getting back outside after a long year cooped up.

“All of us as human beings; we need our recreation time,” said Cpl. Ben Payne of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Among the recent drownings were Augusta Fire Department Lt. Ralph Jenkins, who died last week at Clarks Hill Lake after jumping in to save someone else.

Two Augusta men, Eynn Wilson and EJ Kirk, drowned in the lake near the end of April after one went off a boat and other jumped in after him.

Then 52-year-old David Floyd from Lavonia drowned in the Broad River near the lake in mid-May after his boat overturned while he was fishing.

And 14-year-old Martice Council died last Thursday in Brier Creek in Burke County.

What happened twice at Clarks Hill Lake is all too common.

“Very often, a would-be rescuer that tries to get in the water to help that drowning victim is also pulled under, and they become a victim themselves,” said William Caskey, a Coast Guard Auxiliary member.

What happened to Martice was a different scenario. He drowned after swinging off a rope swing into a creek.

Jagged rocks can be seen at the quarry where Mikell Cory Waters drowned in Grovetown.
Jagged rocks can be seen at the quarry where Mikell Cory Waters drowned in Grovetown.(WRDW)

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.”

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 head-first,” McKinnon said.

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

This sign is posted at the quarry where Mikell Waters drowned in Grovetown.
This sign is posted at the quarry where Mikell Waters drowned in Grovetown.(WRDW)

What you can do

As more people are heading to the water this summer, Georgia DNR also has a campaign with advice for being safe while out on the water. It’s called the SPLASH campaign. It can show you how to make your own water rescue tool kit or even donate a life jacket to be used in the community. You can find more information by clicking here.

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