Investigators with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources released additional details after a drowning that took the life of a Bonneau man.
The incident happened during the early morning hours on Aug. 22, while four people were fishing on a boat near Jack’s Cove on Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County. Berkeley County Coroner George Oliver identified the deceased as 22-year-old, Ethan Thomas of Bonneau.
A statement from the DNR said two men and two women were in a 1972 16ft. Sportcraft, fiberglass boat. Investigators said they were fishing near shore and decided to move to deeper water. At some point while underway they began to encounter rough water. It was determined that several waves in quick succession broke over the boat and capsized the vessel.
Investigators said all four went in the water and decided to swim for shore which was determined to be 400-yards away. The statement said there were life jackets for each person stored on board, but none of the four were wearing them at the time the boat capsized.
Investigators said after swimming for some distance, Thomas began to struggle, and the group made the decision to try and go back to the boat. Only two people made it back to the boat and they lost sight of the others.
DNR investigators said, before the boat sank to the bottom, the two were able to retrieve life jackets from where they were stowed in the front of the vessel. The two then swim to shore and they called 911 from a nearby house. The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office responded and notified SCDNR.
Those at the scene said a third female passenger was recovered safely by a rescue team that included a Bonneau firefighter and the Lake Moultrie Fire Deptartment.
The DNR said she was in the water for approximately two hours before being rescued. The body of Ethan Thomas who disappeared was later recovered in about 12-feet of water 40-yards from the boat.
SCDNR investigators said they do not anticipate that anyone will be charged as a result of the accident and alcohol was judged not to be a factor.