Friends heartbroken after 24-year-old found dead at lake

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:41 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2022 at 11:21 PM EDT
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CLARKS HILL, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Authorities on Thursday identified a man found dead at Strom Thurmond Lake.

Thomas Arthur Berry, 24, of Grovetown, was found dead in a car at the lake.

Authorities are investigating his death as a murder.

We reached out to people who knew him. They say his death is surreal.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said his friend Shannah Hutto.

Some describe him as a big teddy bear, loving and caring. They say he loved to joke and would do anything for anyone.

On Wednesday, an ambulance and law enforcement vehicle blocked the entrance, and the Army Corps of Engineers had posted an online notice that the Clarks Hill Park day use area as closed.

That was the crime scene.

Coroner Faye Puckett was called to the scene at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Around 9 p.m., a tow truck carried a dark-colored Dodge Challenger from down by the lake.

The body was found in a car, in the lake, and Puckett said the occupant was identified by fingerprints.

“We need answers. We want answers,” she said.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is classifying it as a murder.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

A spokeswoman for the agency told News 12: “SLED was requested this afternoon by the McCormick County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a murder.”

People who knew Berry say they are heartbroken and want justice for his death.

“He meant everything to me,” said Hutto.