Camp Thunderbird counselor, Wofford College basketball player drowns in Lake Wylie

Jerimiah Tate
Jerimiah Tate Wofford College

A Camp Thunderbird counselor who drowned early Monday after apparently jumping off the Buster Boyd bridge has been identified as a 19-year-old Columbia resident and a member of the Wofford College basketball team.

The York County Coroner’s Office identified the man as Jeremiah Tate. His body was found in Lake Wylie about 4:30 a.m. after he and another counselor from the YMCA camp reportedly jumped off the bridge about 2 a.m., authorities said.

The other counselor was not injured, the YMCA told The Herald’s news partner, WSOC-TV.

A witness told deputies he saw two men swimming under the bridge, and that they later took off running and jumped off the bridge, according to a York County Sheriff’s Office report. The witness said that about 10 minutes later, he only saw one of the men return to where he originally saw them.

The second camp counselor swam to shore and used the fisherman’s phone to call 911, the report states. The counselor told deputies Tate “had trouble swimming,” and that he “kept sinking when he tried to help him.”

Tate’s body was found in the water below the bridge, deputies said.

A news release from Wofford said Tate was a rising junior majoring in accounting. He also was a Bonner Scholar and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Pre-Law Society.

Wofford reported he was a graduate of Lower Richland High School, where he was president of the student body and a member of the National Honor Society.

"The entire Wofford College family is devastated and saddened today by the loss of Jeremiah Tate," said Wofford Director of Athletics Richard Johnson. "Jeremiah was such a dedicated, loved and respected member of the men’s basketball team.

“He had a wonderful personality and had many friends on campus extending outside of the athletic department.”

Less than two hours after crews pulled Tate’s body from the lake, a second body was pulled from the water near River Hills Marina, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson said the man was 60 years old. His identity has not been released.

Lake Wylie resident Brett Kina said he found the man’s body at 6 a.m. while he was fishing near the marina.

“I was walking toward the back of the marina and noticed something in the water,” he said. “It looked like something larger than what you would see floating in the water.”

Kina said he went closer and realized it was a person floating about 15 feet from shore.

Kina, who just moved to the area recently, said he saw the man at the community swimming pool Sunday night.

“He was swimming at the pool about 5:30 last night, and was a strong swimmer from what I could see,” he said.

Both cases come barely a week after a 64-year-old York woman drowned at a popular sandbar spot for boaters on the lake.

Check back later for more details.

Teddy Kulmala •  803-329-4082