WARE SHOALS, S.C. (WSPA) – A man died Monday after drowning at Irving Pitts Memorial Park, the Laurens County Coroner’s Office said.
Officials responded to the reported drowning around 2:40 p.m. Monday afternoon in the Saluda River.
The Ware Shoals Police Department, Laurens County Water Rescue team, Ware Shoals Fire Department, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Laurens County and Greenwood EMS, as well as a diver from the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.
“The river, it looks like it’s shallow, but there’s a lot of places where the water is so deep that the current is going to take you away,” said Beasley.
Sgt. Kyle Beasley of the Ware Shoals Police Department said officials jumped into the water and swam about 500 feet past a bank toward an island. There they saw family members around a man that they said they had seen bobbing up from the water.
“When Laurens County Water Rescue arrived on the scene, they had a dinghy with a safety basket on it and we were able to safely paddle over to the victim,” said Beasley.
Sgt. Beasley said the man was approximately eight feet deep in the water and was caught underneath a rock.
The Laurens County Coroner’s Office has identified the victim as 43-year-old Saul Diaz Luna, of Laurens County.
Sgt. Beasley said this incident serves as a reminder about water safety. He encourages people to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions, like wearing a life jacket.
“If you are not an agile swimmer, and you have issues swimming, [wear] life jackets, we can’t stress it enough,” said Beasley. “Even an avid swimmer, working with a current, it’s not like a swimming pool. There are undertows that could get you and by the time that you realize you’re in trouble, it could already be too late.”
Police closed down the park for the remainder of Monday. It was reopened on Tuesday.
Editor’s Note: The victim’s name has been changed to reflect the new finding of the Laurens County Coroner’s Office.