OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A man died Monday after drowning in Lake Keowee, the Oconee County Coroner’s Office said.
According to Coroner Karl E. Addis, Michael Criswell, 38, died around 6:35 p.m. in the emergency room at the Oconee Memorial Hospital due to “complications of drowning” in the lake that occurred earlier Monday afternoon.
Criswell had helped someone else who was struggling in the water at Stamp Creek Landing, the coroner’s office said. But after assisting that person, Criswell “possibly stepped off into deeper water and began to struggle before going underwater.”
We’re told that Criswell could not swim.
Oconee County Emergency Management Director, Scott Smith, says bodies of water can be dangerous, even for people who can swim.
“It doesn’t take a whole lot, even in shallower water, people have had instances where they’re trying to have a good time and they dive into the water and hit the bottom and have issues once they do that,” Smith said.
A family friend and co-worker of Criswell, Rita Crutchfield, says he was always helping people. when he could, and that this news is a shock.
“It was unreal. I didn’t believe it. I really didn’t believe it. I looked online and they didn’t release the name, so I thought maybe it was a mix-up. It’s just unbelievable,” Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield says as they all continue to grieve, they’re also trying to help the family as much as they can.
“He worked for Taco Bell for quite some time, so we have reached out to the family about funeral costs to let us know what they expenses are. We reached out to his daughter and his family. Anything they need help with,” Crutchfield said.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is investigating the incident.