EATONTON, Ga. - An 81-year-old man whose body was found floating face-down on Lake Sinclair near Twin Bridges Road in Putnam County on Thursday morning has now been identified by local and state authorities.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills said the victim was Grady Lawrence, of Twin Bridges Road, Eatonton.
Lawrence had been fishing with two friends on and off from Wednesday night through the wee morning hours of Thursday.
A friend of the victim, Grady Crapps, 74, also of Eatonton, said he last saw his friend passed out drunk, according to Sills.
Another man, Bobby Parham, also of Eatonton, told authorities that he and Crapps tried to get Lawrence up, but Lawrence reportedly told them to leave him alone, Sills told The Union-Recorder at the scene.
“They were all there together at various times,” Sills said. “All three of them had been there and drinking. And there were some other people there from time to time. We’re trying to locate those people right now to see what they can tell us.”
The sheriff said the three men had been together, mostly drinking liquor, and doing a little fishing during the night at a public camping area directly across from the Twin Bridges Store. The campsite/fishing property, known as Twin Bridges Campsite, is part of the Oconee National Forest and owned by the U.S. Forest Service.
Sills said deputies and detectives at the scene found at least one liquor bottle at the scene.
Lawrence’s body was discovered by Crapps, who had come there for an overnight camping trip and had set up camp nearby.
Sills said Crapps awakened at daybreak Thursday, about 5:30 a.m.
“He got in his boat (a pontoon) and went over to Twin Bridges Marina,” Sills said. “He said he stayed there at the store until around 7 o’clock.”
The sheriff said as Crapps was preparing to come back to the camping area that he spotted a body floating on top of the water.
Crapps then went back to the store and where authorities were called to the scene.
“He said he was scared it might be Grady (Lawrence), because he had gotten up in the night about 1 a.m. or so to see about Grady, and to see if he was still laying out on the ground,” Sills said.
The sheriff said Crapps saw that Lawrence’s pickup truck was still there at the campsite, but he didn’t see Lawrence anywhere.
The only thing Crapps saw in that area was a tennis shoe, Sills said.
Lawrence’s body was recovered by firefighters/first responders with Putnam County Fire Rescue, along with Deputy Sgt. Justin Brock.
Putnam County Coroner Cooper Rainey later pronounced the victim dead. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Decatur to determine the exact cause of Lawrence’s death.
Cpl. Bubba Stanford with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division said the victim’s body was discovered about 15 feet from the shore and in about four-feet of water.
Stanford, who was assisted at the scene by DNR Game Warden Sgt. Bo Kelly, said the death was being treated as a presumed drowning.
He said authorities believe it happened sometime between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday.
The campsite is located about 400-yards from the W.G. (Geechie) Winslette Jr. Bridge on Twin Bridges Road.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Putnam County Coroner’s Office, the Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division, and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations Division are all involved in the death investigation.