South Carolina

Another man died in one of SC’s deadliest lakes, but he didn’t drown, coroner says

This file photo shows South Carolina’s 18,372-acre Lake Keowee, where an Easley man drowned Labor Day.
This file photo shows South Carolina’s 18,372-acre Lake Keowee, where an Easley man drowned Labor Day. Charlotte Observer

A South Carolina man died in one of South Carolina’s deadliest bodies of water Sept. 20, but he did not drown, according to the coroner.

When Thomas Larry Payne fell into Lake Keowee after a boat ride, he broke his neck, Oconee County Coroner Karl E. Addis reported Sunday.

The 71-year-old Seneca resident was getting off the boat and onto a dock when he fell into the lake at about 9:30 p.m., according to Addis.

Payne was recovered a short time later “in proximity of the dock,” by first responders, who reacted to reports of a possible drowning, Addis said. He was given life support and taken to an area hospital, where he was “pronounced dead at 10:55 p.m.”

Addis performed an autopsy Sunday and reported that Payne’s cause of death was a fractured neck that he suffered when he fell, and the manner of death was accidental.

An Easley man died in Lake Keowee about two weeks before Payne was killed, according to The State. That was in the proximity of Fall Creek Landing, Addis said.

In July, the coroner’s office said at least 32 people have died in Lake Keowee over the past 25 years, and 17 of those fatalities were at the “popular swimming and boating area that features a rock outcropping used for jumping in the lake,” the Greenville News reported.

Three people died in Lake Keowee in 2017, including a 15-year-old Byrnes High School student, The State previously reported.

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