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Missing boaters found, one hospitalized and one dead

Charleston County sheriff's and coroner's personnel head to where two boaters were found Monday morning. Buy this photo

It wasn't like Amelia Antans Claytor to miss work without any notice. The 33-year-old Edisto Island woman is a nurse, and she when she didn't show up at a Lowcountry health center, a co-worker and friend became worried, according to an incident report.

Claytor was reported missing and Charleston County sheriff's officials discovered her boyfriend of five years, 28-year-old Michael Royston, had also gone missing.

By Sunday, several agencies had launched a search for the couple after finding out they had talked about boating on Saturday, according to authorities.

After searching all day Sunday and overnight into Monday morning, U.S. Coast Guard crew members found Claytor suffering from possible hypothermia and shock. Royston was found dead in the 14-foot john boat at around 7 a.m.

The boat was discovered on the Edisto River near the mouth of Leadenwah Creek, according to Beth Steele, with the Coast Guard.

Searchers had found Royston's vehicle with an empty boat trailer at the Steamboat boat landing on Edisto Island.

The cause of Royston's death remains under investigation pending an autopsy, according to Bobbi Jo O'Neal, the chief deputy coroner for Charleston County.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources officials are investigating the case.

DNR Capt. Robert McCullough said preliminary findings show the couple encountered problems with the engine while out on the water but said he was unaware of the specific problem.

Royston was a contractor and worked for Raymond Hyatt, 35, of Edisto Island, who said he last saw Royston at work Friday.

Hyatt said he spent all of Sunday night helping in the search for the boat but didn't hear the news of Royston's passing until he went to Medical University Hospital and spoke to Claytor, who is recovering from her injuries.

"She's in bad shape, but she'll make it," he said.

Claytor told him the pair had run into a sand bar or shallow land and Royston went into the water to push the boat.

The water was cold and he became very short of breath and weak, Hyatt said.

The water temperature in Charleston was 56 degrees on Saturday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Claytor tried to save her boyfriend and performed CPR several times, Hyatt said.

Hyatt, who worked with Royston for the past 21/2 years, said he's saddened by the loss.

"He was very eclectic. He was a very knowledgeable creature," Hyatt said. "He was a 'been there done that' kind of a guy."

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.

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