One man died after he and five friends went overboard when their boat capsized in an accident on Lake Marion Saturday around 5 p.m.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources regional spokesperson David Lucas said the accident happened near marker 87, between Poplar Creek Landing and Lake Marion Resort Landing.
The Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the man’s name.
Lucas said there were three women and three men on board a 32-foot pontoon boat, which had a structure on top.
The boaters were trying to get off of the water due to severe stormy weather, Lucas said. They were attempting to reach Lake Marion Resort Landing as the nearest place to seek shelter from the storm.
He noted the boaters reported strong winds and waves measuring 3 to 4 feet.
He said waves came upon the boat and eventually forced one of the pontoons under the water, overturning the vessel.
The six boaters became “trapped underneath the structure” under the water, Lucas said.
Five of the boaters, including the boat operator, were able to get out from underneath it. One of them managed to escape through a window of the structure, Lucas said.
“It was a chaotic scene,” Lucas said.
When five boaters surfaced and realized one of the men was not among them, the other two men went to locate the missing man and realized he was unconscious.
“It was sheer luck that one of our officers came on the scene," Lucas said.
The DNR officer was also headed toward Lake Marion Resort Landing to wait out the storm.
The officer transported the six boaters to the landing. From there, medics transported the unconscious man to the hospital, where he died, Lucas said.
Lucas said the accident remains under investigation, but preliminary findings indicate this was a weather-related accident.
A social media post Sunday afternoon indicated two dogs also were on board the pontoon. While the writer said it is feared they died, hope remains.
The dogs are named Dozier and Pork Chop. The writer urges people to be on the lookout for them. Their photos are posted with this story at TheTandD.com.
Meteorologist John Quagliariello of the National Weather Service office in Columbia said there was an “outflow boundary” around 5 p.m. in that area of Lake Marion.
“There were storms displaced from Summerton and this was air that came from those storms,” Quagliarello said.
He said the outflow boundary could have caused a wind shift on the lake.
He said typically winds resulting from outflow boundaries are not as high as those in severe thunderstorms, but could reach in excess of 40 mph and a little higher.
About 5:41 p.m., increased wind speeds in Vance caused large limbs to fall, damages to a shed and a carport.
He said radar indicates the storm damage at that time was due to a microburst.
One person died around 7 p.m. Saturday in a boating accident on Lake Marion, S.C. Department of Natural Resources Capt. Robert McCullough said.
McCullough said the accident occurred in Orangeburg County and the investigation is ongoing.
The Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the name of the deceased boater.
This story will be updated.