Navy officer who drowned at Thurmond Lake identified

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

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.

Navy officer drowns at Thurmond Lake

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