Man drowns after Lake Chehaw boat accident - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Man drowns after Lake Chehaw boat accident

February 28, 2006

Albany -- One man drowned and another had to be rescued when their boat capsized on Lake Chehaw Tuesday afternoon.

The men were near the Georgia Power dam around one o'clock and, witnesses say, when they accelerated the boat, the front end of it came up out of the water and 54-year- old Julian Lawton was dumped into the water. He drowned.

The man in the front of the boat, 55-year old Charles Edward Garcia held on to the side of the boat until he was rescued.

Garcia survived had a harrowing experience. As he clung to the side of the boat in the cold water, two nearby fishermen couldn't get to him. But what they did may have helped saved his life.

Bobby Benjamin and Nathan Mosley were fishing from the bank of Lake Chehaw when a small john boat sped by. "Me and my friend was sitting on this side of the bank," said Benjamin. "When the boat came through it was in a pretty fast speed and when he got to the "U" he made a turn or whirl."

But then suddenly, "The back part of the boat shifted down and the front went up and the older guy was at the back part and fell out." And as Julian Lawton struggled to stay alive, his fishing partner frantically tried to save him. The younger guy had to turn the boat loose to run back there to try to rescue him.

And as he was rescuing him, trying to save him, the boat came shifting away from him. But it wasn't working, and they heard the drowning fisherman's final words. "The older guy was saying 'Catch the boat, hold the boat.' But he couldn't hold the boat because he was trying to save him."

So Bobby Benjamin did the only thing he could, he ran for a phone. When he returned, "When I got back, his body was floating up here."

Julian Lawton had drowned, and Nathan Mosley was desperately trying to help the other man stay alive. "Nathan was teaching, coaching him how to hold onto the boat to save him because he had done told us he had done give out. He had panicked, you know."

With help on the way, and the boat quickly sinking, they pleaded with Charles Edward Garcia to hang on. "He said his clothes was wet and he was sinking and he couldn't hold up no longer, so my friend kept coaching him on what to do and all that, and kept him with the spirit where he could be saved."

And he was saved. Chilled from the water and shocked by what he'd been through, the young man was rescued, wrapped in a blanket and taken to a hospital to be checked out.

His fishing companion's body was pulled from the water near the dam.

Bobby Benjamin and Nathan Mosley helped saved a man's life. They've seen a lot in their years of fishing together. "But never nothing like this right here."

Bobby Benjamin says he's going to take a break from fishing for a while. The man who survived, Charles Edward Garcia, is okay. He's been released from the hospital.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=LakeChehawDrowning

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