SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) — On Monday, divers located the body of a Oscar Joe Brunson, 51, a Sumter County resident who went into the water and did not resurface Sunday afternoon at the W.T. Tolar Public Boat Landing located on the Wateree River on US 378.
Friends camping with the man tried in vain to dive in after the man to rescue him and called 911.
The call originally went to Richland County about 3:45 p.m. Sunday and Richland County Fire and Rescue, Richland County Sheriff’s deputies, and SC DNR responded with Sumter County units called in as backup.
Later in the day, it was determined that the man had waded in to the water from a campsite on the Sumter County side of the river, so the investigation then fell to Sumter County authorities.
Divers from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, along with other agencies including the Sumter Fire Department, Sumter County EMS, Sumter Police Department, the Columbia-Richland County Fire Department and the SC Department of Natural Resources on resumed the search around 8 a.m. Monday and the man’s body was located just after 3:30 p.m. in about three feet of water roughly 100 yards from the spot where he went missing.
“We are glad we were able to bring closure to the family,” said Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis. “But we certainly wish we could have had a better outcome.”
Dennis reminded swimmers to use caution when swimming in areas they are unfamiliar with or areas with swift currents and uneven bottoms.
“This is not the first drowning we’ve had in this location,” Dennis said. “We want people to enjoy themselves when swimming, boating or fishing.
“But just be aware of your surroundings and use caution,” he said. “Either wear or carry a life jacket or other flotation device anytime you go in the water. They can save lives.”