GAFFENY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Cherokee County Coroner’s Office is urging people to take extra safety precautions when heading out onto the water.
The calls for caution come after the coroner’s office responded to a drowning at Lake Thicketty on Sunday. The coroner’s office said it was their first drowning this year.
Lake Thicketty, is a popular spot for fishing.
“It’s a beautiful lake, very well used by the people not only in Cherokee County but surrounding counties,” Dennis Fowler, the Cherokee County Coroner said. “A lot of great fishing out there, cat fishing, bass.”
The drowning happened at around 2 a.m. when Juan Lamarr Wyrtch, 51, of Roebuck, went into the water to retrieve his small boat, which had floated away from the shore.
Wyrtch’s wife said he swam out in the lake after the boat and began to wave his hands to her moments later. She swam to him in an effort to pull him back, but he reportedly pushed her away and went under the water.
Wyrtch’s body was 60 feet offshore at a water depth of 17 feet, according to the aquatic rescue team from the Cherokee-Kings Creek Fire Department. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This is the first drowning this year, so we are grateful that we haven’t had more drownings, but we are disappointed that we even have one,” said Fowlder.
Incidents like these boil down to not taking precautions, Fowler said.
Fowler added Wyrtch entered the water fully clothed.
“I’m talking about long pants and all of his clothing on, except shoes. It is very dangerous to be out there like that even in the daylight, this was in the middle of the night very dark, they are swimming in dark water.”
Fowler said if you find yourself in a situation like this, the best thing to do is to pick up the phone.
“The boat is tangible you can replace the boat even if you sink it, but there is help that can arrive and help you that’s why you got 911 to call for assistance,” he said.
Fowler added any body of water can be a source of danger, and anyone who visits a body of water should always be prepared.
“You got to be careful no matter where you are, if you’re in the ocean whether you on a major lake or a river you got to respect the water,” he said. “The precautions should always be that you have all of the flotation devices you should have on that boat that are required by law.”
There were no signs of safety devices or life jackets on board Wyrtch’s boat, Fowler said.
The Cherokee County Coroner’s Office said it would perform a routine autopsy Monday and expect to get the results later in the week. Fowler said this case is under a routine investigation like all drownings are and he doesn’t suspect foul play.