Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and Richland County Coroner Gary Watts released the details concerning the overnight incident at Lake Carolina involving a teenage victim.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts stated that the male victim has been positively identified as, Elias Pierre of Deer Harbor Court, Columbia, SC 29229 with a DOB: 9/24/2001. Coroner Watts stated that the autopsy has been completed and Pierre died as a result of asphyxia due to fresh water drowning.
Columbia Fire Department and Richland County EMS were dispatched at approximately 6:30pm last night (Tuesday, June 27th) to a water rescue on Lake Carolina at the bridge on Lake Carolina Boulevard in the Lake Carolina subdivision. As first units arrived on scene witnesses reported that Pierre was last seen in the water in distress and then went under and did not surface. CFD requested resources from Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Divers from RCSD & SCDNR began their search for the victim in an area nearest the bridge.
As crews began to discontinue their search for the night due to safety reasons, divers discovered the victim.
Chief Jenkins and Coroner Watts strongly encourage all citizens to learn how to swim, as the best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim–this includes adults and children. But even if you know how to swim to always have a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD)/lifejacket on if you are in or around water. They also encourage you to follow these other safety tips:
- NEVER SWIM OR BOAT ALONE.
- Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return, and let that person know you have safely returned.
- Fish, swim, or wade below dams only during low-flow periods.
- Be aware of your surroundings and plan a quick exit from the water to the nearest bank in case of an emergency.
- Be prepared for extremes in weather. Know early signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration in hot weather.
- Try to avoid beer and soft drinks as they tend to dehydrate the body and alcohol impairs judgment.
- If boating, be sure your skills and experience are equal to the water you are boating on.