Originally created 05/06/04

Man drowns in area lake



A North Augusta man died Wednesday night while swimming in Thurmond Lake - the area's first drowning of the swimming and boating season.

Andrew Lewis Gardner, 24, of the 1200 block of Hamburg Road, was in the lake with family members and friends beyond a swimming barrier when he began bobbing up and down in the water, Columbia County Deputy Coroner Vernon Collins said.

When he went under , they began searching the water for him and called for help at about 7:30 p.m.

The group had been picnicking at the Centre Point Beach area in Leah's Lake Springs Park. Emergency workers and members of the Columbia County dive team searched the swimming area and found Mr. Gardner's body in deep water about 15 feet from the shoreline just before 8:30 p.m.

Divers said there did not appear to be anything underwater that Mr. Gardner could have become tangled up in, Mr. Collins said.

He said he was unsure if Mr. Gardner had been drinking but would know after an autopsy.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.