Man Drowns in Hartwell

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Tragedy comes to Lake Hartwell over the weekend as a man is dead after drowning on the Georgia side of the lake in Hart County.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement officer Craig Fulgum told our sister station in Lavonia that it happened Saturday evening at the Old Reed Creek Boat Ramp off Sara John Road in Hartwell.

“Saturday evening at approximately 7:30 p.m., we received a call from Hart County E-911 about a possible drowning,” Fulgum said. “We arrived about 15 minutes later. The subject had been pulled from the lake onto the back and was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Fulgum identified the victim as 54-year old Dennis Baker of Hartwell.

According to Fulgum, Baker drowned while trying to swim back from a water buoy.

“According to eye witnesses who were there in the area, Mr. Baker was trying to swim to a jug in the lake that possibly had a fish on it. He swam across the cove and had reached other side. He collapsed in the water and never resurfaced,” Fulgum said.

Fulgum said this is the first drowning on the Georgia side of Lake Hartwell this year.

He said with the lake at full pool, more people will be swimming and even if you are a good swimmer, it is important to wear a life jacket whenever you are in the water.

“Anytime you are going to be swimming in the lake you need to have a life jacket and someone there with you in case something happens,” Fulgum said. “You need to always be aware of your surroundings.”

Baker’s body was sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta for autopsy.