South Carolina

Teen was helping brother when he drowned in one of SC’s deadliest lakes, coroner says

A 15-year-old South Carolina boy died after swimming in one of the state’s deadliest bodies of water, the Pickens County Coroner’s Office said.

The coroner’s office reported that Sahiyd Thomas drowned in Lake Keowee on Friday night, near Keowee Toxaway State Park, WHNS reported.

The coroner said the teen from Moore was on a camping trip with a church group when he drowned, according to WSPA.

Sahiyd vanished below the water just after 7 p.m., and a Pickens County Emergency Management spokesman said the teen’s body was recovered at about 7:45 p.m., per WYFF. The coroner said Sahiyd was taken to a hospital in Greenville where he died, according to the TV station.

Deputy Coroner Gary Duncan said Sahiyd had gone into the water to save his 12-year-old brother who was struggling in the lake, the Greenville News reported.

“When he pushed his 12-year-old brother back toward the shore, he went backwards and went under and never did come back up,” Duncan said, according to the newspaper.

Witnesses led emergency responders to the area of Lake Keowee where the teen was last seen, and divers recovered his body about 20 feet from the shore, per WHNS.

Emergency officials said the area where Sahiyd’s body was found was not accessible by land, WYFF reported.

Information on the condition of the teen’s younger brother was not available, but no other deaths were reported.

In 2018, the Oconee County Coroner’s Office said at least 32 people have died in Lake Keowee over the past 25 years, according to the Greenville News.

As of August, at least 20 men have died swimming in the Fall Creek Landing area, also known as “The Rock,” in the past 22 years, The State reported. That is about five miles from Keowee Toxaway State Park.

Seven of the 20 drowning victims were teenagers, according Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis.

Addis had advice for anyone visiting Lake Keowee, asking them “to please use good judgment and place safety first for themselves, their family and friends.

“Do not swim alone; if swimming capabilities are limited, the use of a personal flotation device is strongly advised.”

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.