OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Oconee County’s Emergency Services is urging the public to wear life jackets while swimming and boating this summer.
The county’s E-911 Communications Center received a call about a drowning on Saturday around 4 p.m.
According to investigators, a child became distressed while swimming in the lake near High Falls County Park. 35-year-old Caleb Emanuele Cohen then went into the water to help the child.
“The reports we got were that when he [Cohen] went under to save the child, he started having problems,” Scott Smith, the county’s deputy director of emergency services, said. “He started struggling while he was swimming. He was not wearing a floatation device. At that point, he went under and never came back up.”
The child reportedly made it out of the water safely.
Dive teams searched for Cohen for hours and found his body about 30 to 40 feet underwater.
“We did find the victim pretty much in the area that he actually went underwater at,” Smith said. “There was no movement at all. When he went down, he went straight down.”
Cohen’s death was ruled accidental by the Oconee County coroner. Investigators said they do not suspect foul play.
As more people prepare to spend time on the lake, officials are urging adults and children to be careful.
“We always want to recommend that people swim in pairs and always have a life vest — some type of floating object,” Scott Krein, the county’s director of emergency services, said.
Krein said wearing a life jacket is key.
“You can be just a few feet offshore and find yourself in water that’s over your head,” Krein explained. “In any water that you can’t stand up in, we want to make sure that, especially kids, wear a life vest all the time. If they’re on the boat, wear a life vest. It only takes a second for a problem to happen.”