Lake Hartwell tops list of deadly Upstate lakes by a landslide

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LAKE HARTWELL, SC (WSPA) – On the weekends in the summer there are thousands of people utilizing the waters across South Carolina, but in the Upstate there’s one lake that claims more lives than the others.

Since 1993, the Corps of Engineers report 111 people lost their lives on the waters of Lake Hartwell with the most recent fatality on Sunday in Georgia. When compared to the Duke Energy records that only go back to 1998, Lake Keowee had 36 fatalities and Jocassee had four, Hartwell is the deadliest. 

While no death is the same, DNR officials tell 7News most the people who use Hartwell are just there for the day so they aren’t always familiar with the lake hazards or know their limits around water.

“Anderson County has 30 different boat ramps in addition to the boat parks and places where people go swimming so I think Hartwell provides more access to the average recreating person and with more access comes more people and with more people come more fatalities,” said Lance Corporal Shawn Hanna with SCDNR.

The statistics show that these water deaths range from drownings to boating accidents, but Hanna said he’s yet to see one that wasn’t preventable by at least one factor and more often than not it’s having a life jacket.

At all three lakes, there are free stations with life jackets for swimmers and boaters to use throughout the day and return to help people stay safe while having fun.

As for where Lake Hartwell stands when looking across the state, Hanna tells 7News Hartwell and Lake Murray in Columbia on average lead the state in water related fatalities.

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