Navy officer who drowned at Thurmond Lake identified

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A Navy officer who drowned at Thurmond Lake on Sunday has been identified as Billy Sims Jr., 26, of Augusta.

Bianca Cain Johnson
Staff Writer
E-mail | 706-823-3486

The Atlanta native had been stationed at Fort Gordon’s Navy Information Operations Command as an ensign since September, said Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Daniel Farnsworth.

The sheriff’s office was called to the area near West Dam about 6:12 p.m. Water rescue crews were called less than five minutes later.

Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said Sims was swimming with five friends at the Augusta Sailing Club in Appling when they decided to swim to a buoy about 50 yards from the roped-off swimming area at the dam.

Collins said the group made it to the buoy and was returning when one of the swimmers noticed Sims flailing in the water. The swimmer called out to Sims but he disappeared underneath the water.

The swimmers tried to find Sims but were unsuccessful.

He was pronounced dead at 8:04 p.m.

An autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Lab in Atlanta determined that Sims died as a result of an accidental drowning.

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rmwhitley 06/24/13 - 05:21 pm
God bless

Mr. Sims' soul.

sunnydayballoons 06/24/13 - 05:33 pm
Please remember Friends & Family of the deceased

will read this article. They are seeking answers, not irony. Billy was a city boy, not a man of the sea. You remark is inappropriate and thoughtless.

corgimom 06/24/13 - 05:40 pm
The sad part is that he won't

The sad part is that he won't be the only one, there are always 3-4 people that drown there every summer.

KSL 06/25/13 - 06:14 am

I am going to repost this link because I think it is imporant for those who go in or on the water to know.

At my college in 1965 they taught it the technique a little differently. We were taught to inhale after the mouth was oit of the water and exhale through the nose when we lowered the head back into the water. Thy wanted minimal breath holding because it can be tiring.

We were all girls, so we were more buoyant, especially those who put on the freshman 10.

soapy_725 06/25/13 - 06:23 am
Do Not Panic. You can float!! Panic is number One.

You can float with cramps. You can float and stabilize your breathing pattern.

soapy_725 06/25/13 - 06:26 am
You have to know your limitations. The lake is not a pool.

Beneath that lake surface are holes. There are layers of alternating very cold and warm water. There are weeds and branches one the bottom.

Riverman1 06/25/13 - 10:19 am
A young Navy man has lost his

A young Navy man has lost his life. A very sad event. The family has my deepest sympathy.

Darby 06/25/13 - 04:15 pm
My previous post was pulled due to what

someone felt was an insult. I believe that telling another that his post is "inappropriate and thoughtless", while lacking knowledge of his intent is itself an insult.

I was told by that poster that Ensign Sims family is seeking answers. I can offer no answers and I can assure you that not one will be found on these pages. This is, after all, about a news article detailing a tragic human event.

That this young officer lost his life far too soon can only be viewed as heartbreaking. As I said before, I don't know his family but I'm certain that, from my own experiences, their grief is far too great to be effected by my observations.

Ensign Sims and I were both members of our nation's defense community. As such, we accepted without reservation that our lives could be forfeit to hostile action. What we do not expect is to lose our lives or the life of a comrade while engaged in a recreational event. That fact alone, to a fellow warrior, makes his passing ironic, just as I stated.

My remark was an honest observation given without malice. I view every soldier, sailor, Marine or airman as a comrade in arms. Most Navy men I've known, and I've known quite a few, are proud to be called "Men of the sea."

I said going in that his death was sad and tragic. That should make it obvious to any rational person that I was being respectful. Certainly not "thoughtless".

I responded angrily to the poster who was both condescending and insulting to me. I met insult with insult.

Given the nature of the subject, it would have been better had I "turned the other cheek" and I didn't.

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