A 57-year-old Cleveland, Tennessee man lost his life on the lake over the weekend when he swam across Mac Point on the Ocoee River and was unable to make the return trip. Local Fire and Rescue diver Steven Smith was able to recover the body. The victim’s name has not been released.
According to Chief Steve Lofty of West Polk Fire and Rescue, the man parked on a pull-off on the west side of Mac Point and walked down to the water. Before entering the water, the man spoke to an elderly gentleman who was camping nearby. According to Lofty, the camper tried to talk the man out of getting into the water and going swimming.
The man swam across the point and said he didn’t feel right and wanted to go back. He made it part of the way back, then began to struggle. The elderly camper tried to jump into the water to help him, but was unable to get to him before he went under the water. The camper then swam back to shore, took his cell phone to the road for a signal and called 911.
A rescue truck out of Ocoee, Tennessee came to the scene with Daniel Stinnet on incident command. Steven Smith and Shawn Lewis also responded. Smith had water rescue training and went into the water to search for the victim. He was able to locate the body and bring it to shore. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene.
Lofty said there was no need for an autopsy because there was an eye-witness and there was no question it was a drowning, but a blood sample was taken.