LITCHFIELD BEACH -- A mother, daughter and a young man died after a small boat carrying six people capsized only 15 feet from shore on a chilly South Carolina river, authorities said Thursday.
The 14-foot boat was making the 300-yard journey across the Waccamaw River from the mainland to Sandy Island on Wednesday night when the accident happened, Georgetown County Sheriff A. Lane Cribb said.
Showers and thunderstorms swept across the coast Wednesday night but Cribb said it wasn't clear whether the storms had anything to do with the boat capsizing.
County Coroner Kenny Johnson identified the victims as 19-year-old Shaquatia Robinson of Sandy Island; her mother, 47-year-old Lou Ann Robinson; and 18-year-old Rishard Pyatt. Pyatt's body was found after a daylong search on Thursday night under the water, close to shore.
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Shaquatia Robinson's 1-year-old son was found in the water Wednesday night and was listed in critical condition at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston on Thursday.
When the child was taken to the hospital, his body temperature was in the mid-80s, Johnson said. Doctors were able to raise it into the 90s.
The sheriff said the woman operating the boat and her 5-year-old daughter were able to safely get to shore. Cribb said it was his understanding that those in the boat could not swim.
The 12,000-acre island is located between the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee Rivers and is home to an enclave of about 20 families, most from the Gullah culture. More than 9,000 pristine acres are managed as a wildlife preserve.
The boat's passengers were returning to the island after boarding at a landing near Litchfield Beach, an coastal resort community of golf courses, condominiums and restaurants about 70 miles northeast of Charleston.
The sheriff called it one of the worst boating accidents in recent memory in Georgetown County.
"All of them are bad, but lately it's been one of the most tragic we have had," he said.