Enquirer Herald

Lake Wylie drowning victim identified

York County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg rescue crews worked for nearly three hours in blistering heat Saturday evening to recover the body of a Charlotte man who drowned after falling from a moving boat.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast identified the victim as Tony Hinson, 67, of Charlotte.

Around 4 p.m., rescue crews in Charlotte received a call about a man who had fallen into Lake Wylie and didn’t resurface, said Cotton Howell, director for York County’s emergency management office.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the Charlotte Fire Department were the first agencies to respond to the scene, Howell said.

Firefighters with the Charlotte Fire Department rushed to the scene one mile north of the Buster Boyd Bridge shortly after 4 p.m., said Capt. Rob Brisley with the Charlotte Fire Department.

Divers used Fire Boat 38, an emergency response boat that allows “crosstrained firefighters” to help people in on the water, to perform a “hasty search” underwater in an attempt to locate the man, Brisley said.

When crews realized the incident occurred closer to South Carolina, they called in reinforcements from York County, Howell said.

Crews worked together and, almost three hours later, recovered the Hinson’s body at around 7:15 p.m., Howell said.

“It was a seamless operation,” Howell said.

As crews worked in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, Howell said responders made sure the divers and crews were relieved so they didn’t become “over fatigued.”

“We certainly didn’t want to compromise any of the safety of the responders,” Howell said.

“You can never pick the ideal climate to help somebody in need,” said Brisley, who added that upgrades in technology and equipment can sometimes save a life or result in a quick recovery.

“Half-way through the summer, we know that activity on the lake is very popular and we hope that there’s no more tragedies this summer,” Brisley said.

Still, he said, “the service has no boundaries when it comes to firefighters or first responders in North & South Carolina coming together to help somebody in need on Lake Wylie.”

Howell called the recovery “successful,” saying that sometimes recovering drowning victims can take anywhere from days to weeks to months.

“We’ve had one this year that took over five months,” Howell said. “There’s no rule to how long it takes to find a victim. There’s a lot of water out there and a lot of obstacles to overcome to find a victim.”

Information Howell’s office received suggests that Hinson fell into the water while the boat was still moving. Other people were present, but Howell was unable to comment on what they were doing and if they were involved in the incident.

“The investigation will determine who all is involved and who they were,” he said.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has taken over the investigation, Howell said.