Dexter man drowns in Bollinger County recreational area

Sunday, June 21, 2009

ZALMA, Mo. -- A Dexter, Mo., man drowned Saturday in Bollinger County after trying to rescue a relative.

Bollinger County Sheriff Leo McElrath said his office received a call about 4:30 p.m. that family members needed to be rescued from the Castor River at the Sweetgum recreational area.

McElrath said two families from Dexter were swimming in the area when a young girl had trouble staying afloat. Members of the families then tried to rescue her but had trouble navigating the waters themselves. In the end the 25-year-old uncle of the girl drowned. His body was found about 6:30 p.m.

More than 20 firefighters, police and other emergency personnel arrived on the scene. Within an hour of arriving on the scene, McElrath said, the operation turned from rescue to recovery.

"You can imagine what the family is going through," McElrath said. "They're devastated. You plan on spending a nice sunny day swimming and enjoying other activities in the area and then this happens."

The identity of the victim is being withheld until all family members have been notified.

Bollinger County Coroner Charles Hutchings said an autopsy would not be conducted because witnesses saw the person drown.

McElrath said the tragedy should serve as a reminder to always use caution when swimming in the area.

"It may look OK, but it's pretty treacherous out there," McElrath said. "Have fun, but always be vigilant. The swift current can cause some trouble in a matter of seconds."

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