York County woman, 64, drowns in Lake Wylie

By Catherine Muccigrosso

Kathryn and husband Lester Kitts of Lake Wylie enjoyed car shows.
Kathryn and husband Lester Kitts of Lake Wylie enjoyed car shows. COURTESY OF JAN SMILEY TODD

Lake Wylie neighbors are mourning the loss of a friend after Kathryn Kitts, 64, of York drowned late Sunday afternoon at a popular sandbar spot for boaters on Lake Wylie.

Kitts was with her husband and two dogs at the sandbar that had a large crowd Sunday when she was found face down in about two feet of water, said Capt. Robert McCullough, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Natural resources, which is handling the investigation. York County Sheriff’s Office lake patrol deputies responded after a 911 call and CPR was attempted on the woman, McCullough said.

DNR officials also responded.

Foul play is not suspected and criminal charges are not expected at this time, McCullough said.

The site is on the South Carolina side of Lake Wylie. The drowning in the lake is believed to be the first in York County of the 2015 summer recreation season.

Jan Smiley Todd has known Kitts for about 15 years.

“What a shock,” Todd said. “She will be so missed.”

Todd said Kitts rallied her neighbors on the Allison Creek peninsula for many events, including Riversweep to clean up trash, as well as hosting events at her and husband Lester’s lakefront home for yoga or Easter sunrise service.

“Kathy loved to host people,” Todd said. “Her being gone will affect a lot of people.”

Todd said Kitts was a nurse who helped take care of “the whole neighborhood.”

“She had a real big heart and cared about people,” Todd said.

Todd said Kitts also loved dogs and all animals, and was known for rescuing them.

“There was a nest of herons across the channel from her. After we had a huge storm a few summers ago, she saw the nest was gone, so she jumped in the pontoon boat and headed across the lake,” Todd said. “She returned with what was left of a nest (she found it on the shoreline), and two baby herons. She tended them overnight until folks from the Raptor Center could take them in.”

Todd said Kitts was a member of Allison Creek Presbyterian Church, was involved in organizing Lake Wylie Music Fest, loved dogs and gardening.

“She was quirky, and would pick up and recycle junk and make art for her garden,” said Todd, who featured her garden in an issue of Lake Wylie Today magazine. “She had a real creative eye.”

Allison Creek Presbyterian Church Pastor Sam McGregor Jr. also has known Kitts for about 15 years since he came to the church. He said along with hosting sunrise services for the church, the Kitts hosted Habitat Caravaners, RVers from across the country who park at the church while they work on area Habitat for Humanity projects. The Kitts would take their guests out for pontoon boat rides and “many things to make their stay hospitable.”

“Kathy was a very unique woman who had lots of friends of all over the Lake Wylie area,” McGregor said. “She would welcome anybody into her home.”

McGregor said he hopes her memorial celebration will be festive to represent Kitts positive and gregarious outlook on life.

“You would immediately be drawn to Kathy,” he said. “She will be greatly missed.”

Friend Barbara Candler agreed Kitts will be missed by many.

“She was a true gem who never lost her sparkle and continues to shine through all of us who knew and loved her,” Candler said. “Heaven just received one special angel.”

Herald reporter Andrew Dys contributed to this article.