LATEST: Teenager drowns in Savannah River

Saturday, May 30, 2009 7:37 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 12:24 AM
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The teenage son of a Georgia State Patrol officer drowned while swimming with a friend Saturday afternoon.

Stephen Fishel was pronounced dead at 5:33 p.m. nearly a mile from the Hammonds Ferry boat ramp in North Augusta, said Richmond County Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald. He recently graduated from Tutt Middle School and was going to begin his freshman year this fall at Westside High School, according to a Tutt Middle employee.

The 15-year-old and a friend were swimming toward an area in the Savannah River called “Goat Island” around 1:30 p.m., Mr. McDonald said. Mr. Fishel began to swim back in the opposite direction and eventually went under before he reached his destination.

Richmond County Fire Department and Dive Team spent hours searching for Stephen’s body.

It was originally believed that another person had drowned near the Boathouse Center on Riverfront Drive, but Mr. McDonald confirmed that the family had gathered there while waiting for news about the teenager.

His father, State Patrol Officer Richard Fishel, was one of the many people at the boathouse Saturday evening.

Ethie Kulling, a Tutt Middle assistant librarian, said the news of Stephen’s death will hit hard teachers and staff at the school he recently graduated from.

“Any teacher from Tutt will tell you he was a wonderful boy,” she said late Saturday. “I never heard him say one bad word to anyone.”

Stephen had a strong faith in God and had hoped to one day join the military, Mrs. Kulling said.

“He really touched our hearts,” she said. “We’ll miss him.”

His body will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta for an autopsy this morning.

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kuntrygirl 05/30/09 - 08:31 pm
Sad very sad.I wonder if he

Sad very sad.I wonder if he knew how to swim?My sympathy to the family.

Aliyah 05/30/09 - 08:44 pm
Our prayers and condolance to

Our prayers and condolance to the family.Our heart aches with them.

mar 05/30/09 - 09:42 pm
My prayers go to the

My prayers go to the family!!!! How very sad!! So very, very young!!!!

outspokenmomof4 05/30/09 - 10:18 pm
Stephen was such a wonderful

Stephen was such a wonderful young man... so polite and respectful. He had so much potential!!! A young man with faith in God and always looking to help out another person!! We will miss him.... he left behind a lot of people who loved and respected him at Tutt. God bless his family and watch over them in their time of need!!

OpieOnSteroids 06/01/09 - 07:59 pm
I knew Stephen a long time

I knew Stephen a long time through his Grandparents. That whole family was very loving and treated everyone as family, I am so truly sorry for this loss. They were very proud of Stephen. I'm sure he is as much an angel now as he always was in life. My truest sorrow for his parents and Big Mike and Sandy and his aunt and uncles. I love you all.

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