BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - One person is dead and five others had to be rescued after their boat took on water on Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County Sunday afternoon.
According to the Berkeley County Coroner's Office, six people were aboard a 22-foot deck boat when a strong thunderstorm moved in overhead. The coroner had identified the victim as 19-year-old Robert Northen Daniels of Ladson. Daniels would have turned 20 on Tuesday, August 21st. His death was ruled as accidental drowning.
The rescue squad received an emergency call just before one o'clock Sunday reporting that a boat was in trouble near the Pinopolis dam.
"They were fishing and had the boat anchored 100 yards away from the dam," said coroner Bill Salisbury. "When the storm popped up they tried to free the anchor but they were unable to get the anchor free. They cranked the motor and tried to use the boat to free the anchor but the boat drowned out and lost power. That's when the waves came in and filled the boat with water."
Salisbury says everyone on the boat jumped out and swam for the rocks just in front of the dam. The coroner says the swim was at least 100 yards.
Five people made it to the rocks safety, including a double amputee. However, Salisbury says a young man lost his life at some point during the escape from the sinking boat.
"The storm did cause the accident," said Salisbury.
The coroner says the storm lasted for about 15 minutes above the lake. By the time officers responded to the scene things had cleared up.
Rescue crews had to cut through a chain link fence on Santee cooper property to get the survivors. Crews had to use a high angle rescue with baskets to rescue the double amputee from the rocks.
"At this point it's my understanding that no one was wearing life jackets," said the coroner. "I spoke to the boat operator just a minute ago and he said life jackets were on board but no one was wearing one when this happened."
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources boat fatality investigators are taking statements and looking into what may have caused the incident.