YMCA camp counselor, 19, drowns in Lake Wylie

Jeremiah Tate
Jeremiah Tate Wofford College

A YMCA Camp Thunderbird counselor who played basketball at Wofford College drowned early Monday morning after jumping off a highway bridge into Lake Wylie, officials said.

Jeremiah Tate, 19, did not resurface after he entered the lake around 2 a.m. with another counselor. His was one of two drownings in Lake Wylie on Monday.

In Tate’s case, the second counselor swam ashore and used a nearby fisherman’s cellphone to call police. He told authorities that Tate had had trouble swimming and kept sinking when he tried to help, the York County Sheriff’s Office reported.

After a two-hour search by fire and rescue crews, Tate’s body was found. The other counselor involved was not injured.

No contributing factors have been released. The York County Sheriff’s Office and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources are investigating.

YMCA Camp Thunderbird officials said in a Facebook post that no other counselors or campers were involved or witnessed the incident, which happened off camp property. Both counselors involved stayed in separate cabins that also had co-counselors with campers.

Officers say they responded to a second drowning of a 60-year-old man at River Hills Marina, near the bridge, Monday morning just a few hours after Tate’s body was found.

Lake Wylie resident Brett Kina found the man’s body at 6 a.m. while fishing near the marina, The (Rock Hill) Herald reported. The victim’s name has not been released.

Officials do not believe the two cases are related.

Tate was a rising junior at Wofford, where he studied accounting and played basketball for two years. Wofford Athletics tweeted a photo in memory of the teen.

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

Tate was a Bonner Scholar at Wofford and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Pre-Law Society, Wofford reported. A graduate of Lower Richland High School near Columbia, Tate was president of the student body and a member of the National Honor Society.

Over 100 of Tate’s Facebook friends had posted memories on his profile page early Monday afternoon.

The YMCA is responding with support for other staff and counselors at the camp.

“We’re heartbroken,” said Molly Thompson, senior director of communication at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “We’ve got grief counselors here to support our staff with prayers and love and whatever we can at this point.”

Camp Thunderbird is just south of the Buster Boyd Bridge, off S.C. 49 in Lake Wylie, S.C.

At least two other people have drowned in the area near the bridge in the past nine years.

The American Red Cross recommends that swimmers and boaters wear life jackets near the lake, swim with a partner and only swim and dive in designated areas. Swimmers should also check weather and water conditions before getting into the lake and avoid drinking alcohol.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer