Friday, May 06, 2005

The sad story below is about two men who drowned while fishing in a small relatively shallow pond. The question, aside from the law, is should there be more education about the dangers of boating in this kind of water without lifejackets. Who should educate the public on this type of boating situation to make it safer?? Two Men Drown in Pond When Boat CapsizedMay 5, 2005 By RICHARD WALKER. T&D Staff Writer DENMARK — A fishing trip among friends turned to tragedy Wednesday when two men drowned after their small boat overturned in a rural pond north of Denmark. Bamberg County Coroner Billy Duncan said Matthew Paul Williams of Blackville and Torean Williams of Springfield were fishing with three acquaintances at a pond off Redwine Road when the accident occurred."They were out here fishing, they said. One of them stood up (in the boat), I'm told, and the boat flipped over," Duncan said. "One of them could swim and one of them couldn't swim."Emergency personnel were called out at about 3:55 p.m. after the two 22-year-old men disappeared beneath the water of the 3-acre pond located in a rural area about four miles north of Denmark.Officials said the three acquaintances remained on shore fishing while the two Williams men, believed to be distant cousins, launched a 10-foot watercraft into the pond. But when the craft overturned, both men were thrown into the water. When they failed to surface, someone at the scene with a cell phone called emergency personnel, officials said.Bamberg County Rescue, sheriff's deputies, Denmark Fire Department, DNR and EMS sent crews to the pond with the outside chance one or both of the men could be rescued. Emergency crews walked the banks of the pond searching the water.As the seconds ticked anxiously by, family members and acquaintances of the men began to arrive. They waited on an opposite bank about 100 yards from the rescue crews.Some knelt and prayed. Others cried in silence. All kept watch on the surface of the water rippled only by a gentle breeze.At about 4:57 p.m., a group of about 10 family members arrived, running across an open field toward the pond. Their cries of anguish arrived before they could."Somebody please tell me no! Somebody please! Somebody please tell me no! Not my son, no God, not my son. Not Torean. Oh God!" a woman screamed hysterically.Still, there were those who refused to believe the two men could be dead. One onlooker chewed a fingernail while staring at the water as if willing the men to surface. She spoke softly, but resolutely, to no one in particular, "They're going to find them. They're going to find them."At 5:10 p.m., a DNR diver entered the water.One of the men who was present when the pair disappeared watched intently as the diver searched for his friends. On the verge of tears and without taking his eyes from the water, he declined to comment.Six minutes later, the crowd of about 40 broke into tears and wailing of anguish as all hope of rescue vanished when the upper body of a man broke the surface of the water."That's Matthew! That's Matthew! No, Matthew!" a woman shouted.At 5:20 p.m., another body was brought to the surface."That's my boy! That's Torean! That's Torean!" a woman screamed.The bodies of the two men, clad in jeans, T-shirts and sneakers were removed from about 8 feet of water and loaded into a coroner's transport van.DNR officials said the tragedy will most likely be ruled a boating accident."It's a little small 9- or 10-footer that appears to have had hull/structure damage. There's a crack in the boat and it took on water," DNR Sgt. Lee Mills said. "From what we've been told, we had one swimmer and one non-swimmer. No life jackets."No autopsies are planned, Duncan said.About two hours after the initial call for help, emergency crews began securing equipment as the crowd of onlookers gradually thinned."And this weekend is Mother's Day. Can you imagine what it's going to be like for those mothers?" an unidentified DNR officer said as he walked away. T&D Staff Writer Richard Walker can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 803-533-5516.

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