SCDNR Dive Team concludes successful search and recovery operation on Lake Monticello in Fairfield County
June 21, 2021
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, S.C. — Members of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Dive Team have made a successful recovery in the weekend search for an individual at the Lake Monticello recreational beach on the lake's western shore.
Fairfield County Fire Services contacted SCDNR and requested assistance Saturday evening (June 19, 2011) at approximately 5 p.m. Witnesses reported that a male individual was paddling on a kayak-style inflatable raft a short distance outside of the marked swimming area at the recreation area when he fell into the water, began struggling and disappeared.
SCDNR and Fire Services divers searched until after dark on Saturday evening, and the SCDNR dive team resumed the search Sunday morning. The missing individual, an 18-year-old Hispanic male, was located around 10 a.m. The Fairfield County Coroner’s Office has custody of the body and will release any additional information regarding the identity and cause of death at the conclusion of their investigation. A boating accident investigation of the incident by SCDNR is also ongoing.
Shortly after the search resumed Sunday morning, team member Mike Norris, operating a side-scan sonar device, noticed an anomaly in the water a short distance from where witnesses estimated the man went under. Team member Willis Bowers was able to pinpoint the location using a hand-held "ARIS" sonar unit and made the recovery. Other SCDNR Dive Team members assigned to the search included Ethan Adair, Bradley Miller, Preston Garner, Kevin Johnson and Matthew Oliver.
"It's a tragedy for a family anytime we have an incident like this, and course it hits home even more to have it happen on Father's day weekend -- the drowned man was somebody's son," said Dive Team Supervisor Sgt. Dwayne Rogers. "It's a reminder that our officers and dive team members are often called away from their own families on special weekends and holidays in situations like this. It's a sacrifice, but one our folks are proud to make in order to help another family get closure."
The men and women of the SCDNR’s “A.I.R” (Aquatic Investigations and Recovery) Team are sworn law enforcement officers specially trained in the use of diving gear. Team members participate in underwater searches for drowning victims and assist SLED and other law enforcement agencies with evidence recovery in criminal investigations in addition to their regular duties as state conservation officers in their home counties.