According to Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement officer Craig Fulgum, it happened Saturday evening at the Old Reed Creek Boat Ramp off Sara John Road in Hartwell.
“Saturday evening at approximately 7:30p, we received a call from Hart County e911 about a possible drowning,” Fulgum said. “We arrived about 15 minutes later. The subject had been pulled from the lake onto the back and was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Fulgum said the victim is identified as 54-year old Dennis Baker of Hartwell.
Fulgum said Baker drown while trying to swim back from a floating water jug.
“According to eye witnesses who were there in the area, Mr. Baker was trying to swim to a jug in the lake that possibly had a fish on it. He swam across the cove and had reached other side. He collapsed in the water and never resurfaced, Fulgum said.”
Hart County 911 and the Hart County Sheriff’s office along with the Hart County coroner arrived on the scene a short time later but it was too late.
Baker’s body was sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta for autopsy and his family was notified Saturday night.
Fulgum said this is the first drowning on the Georgia side of Lake Hartwell this year and the first one on the Georgia side in several years.
He said with the lake at full pool, more people will be swimming and even if you are good swimmer, it’s important to take extra safety precautions.
“Anytime you are going to be swimming in the lake you need to have a life jacket and someone there there with you in case something happens,” Fulgum said. “You need to always be aware of your surroundings.”
Additionally, Fulgum said when the lake is full, something like a buoy or an island may seem closer than they really are and even a good swimmer can tire quickly.