Body recovered from Savannah River near Riverside Elementary School identified

Columbia County

#UPDATE | October 1, 2021 (WJBF) – The drowning victim has been identified as 72-year old Wayne Weinberg of Aiken.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – A man was pulled out of the river at Betty’s Branch, behind Riverside Elementary, late Thursday afternoon.

“I would assume the kayak people most times I see them they have life jackets on so I would assume they probably don’t drown doing that,” said Larry Pierce.

Pierce lives in Evans. He says he goes fishing in Betty’s Branch, at least once or twice a week.

“A white male in a small boat came pass me and went that way up this creek probably about two and a half ago hours ago,” he said.

He said soon after he came back to load his boat up and go home.

“Columbia County had it blocked off, shortly thereafter the man that I saw go that way came back, pulled the aluminum boat up on that thing. There was a woman, a white male middle to the older age that looked deceased to me,” he said.

Pierce is describing what he saw after the victim apparently drowned in the river, but Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins is still trying to piece together what happened.

“Well, at this time there was a man and a lady in a kayak and they were out boating and for some unknown reason the kayak flipped over,” said Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins.

The woman was able to get out of the water with no injuries, but when it comes to the man, who allegedly drowned, Collins is not sure what happened.

“He was found on a bank or a barr, sand barr, apparently he made it to the island there, I plan on calling the GBI crime lab tonight and having an autopsy done,” said Collins.

There’s still no word on whether or not either passenger was wearing a life jacket on the boat. We did get a chance to talk with the owner off-camera, she was shaken up, but says things like this don’t happen very often out at Betty’s Branch off of the Savannah River.

“I don’t know to my knowledge, I don’t know if I know of anybody drowning in this section right in here,” said Pierce.

Columbia County investigators have responded to the scene of a reported body found in the river.

We’re told the body of the victim has been recovered from the Savannah River near Riverside Elementary.

The Columbia County Coroner has also responded to the scene.

No further details have been released.

Count on NewsChannel 6 for more details as they become available.

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