Calvin Cunningham, of Yorkshire Drive, jumped into the Augusta Canal about 4:45 p.m. while being pursued by Deputy Jimmy Lamar, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Lamar, who had been working a special assignment at the canal at Milledge Road, recognized his cousin, Cunningham, as having been reported missing and tried to convince him to call home, according to an incident report. Cunningham ran and Lamar chased him.
Once in the canal, Cunningham was overcome by the current. Two bystanders attempted to help rescue him but were unsuccessful.
Richmond County Water Rescue dive team members recovered the body shortly after 7 p.m., and Cunningham was declared dead at 7:22 p.m., Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald said.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta.
Cunningham’s mother had reported him missing Wednesday, but she saw him the next day and his status was updated, the release said. Officials said they could not speculate on why he ran from Lamar.
McDonald said it’s normal for deputies to receive special assignments to patrol the canal during warmer months.
The sheriff’s office “likes to have someone posted over there because people like to swim in the canal,” he said.