EATONTON, Ga. — A 63-year-old man fishing with his cousin and some friends on Lake Sinclair in Putnam County on Tuesday afternoon fell into the water and presumedly drowned, local and state authorities say.
It is believed that the victim experienced some type of medical issue.
It happened near the bridge off Twin Bridges Road in an area where people often fish in a small cove from the bank.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills identified the victim as Willie Bernard Williams, who lived part-time at a residence on the 200 block of Jones Road in Eatonton and sometimes at a residence in Decatur.
An emergency 911 call came into the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 4:10 p.m. Deputies and firefighters/first responders with Putnam County Fire Rescue and personnel with the Putnam County Emergency Medical Services arrived at the scene a short time later.
Sills said firefighters/first responders recovered the victim’s body at 4:39 p.m.
“It’s believed that he suffered some type of a medical episode, fell into the lake, and drowned,” Sills told The Union-Recorder.
Sgt. Bubba Stanford, a game warden with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, said Williams’ body was retrieved from waters between five and eight feet deep.
Stanford said he was notified about the presumed drowning around 4:30 p.m.
“I was told the sheriff's office was on the way with their boat and I was on the way there with our boat,” Stanford said. “From my understanding, firefighters with Putnam County Fire Rescue found the victim very close to the shoreline, basically immediately, upon their arrival.”
The victim’s body was submerged on the bottom of the lake, Stanford said.
Most of the water in that neighborhood of the lake is between five and eight feet deep.
Stanford said the incident happened in between the two bridges where people commonly fish from the bank.
“They pull over and park and then fish from the bank,” Stanford said. “They go there and fish for catfish and crappie.”
At the time, Williams and his group were fishing from the bank.
The investigation is in its early stages, Stanford said.
“We won’t know anything officially until we get a coroner's report,” Stanford said.
The game warden said witnesses told authorities at the scene that the victim stood up and “acted kinda odd, and then pitched over into the water.”
“It sounds like some type of medical episode,” he said.
Putnam County Coroner Hollis Harrison said an autopsy would be performed later this week at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Decatur to determine the cause and manner of Williams’ death.