Drowning victim’s body found in Phinizy Pond

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AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) — The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says the body of the victim of a drowning incident at Phinizy Pond near Gravel Pit Rd has been recovered.

He’s identified as 31-year- old Jamaal Warwell, according to Coroner Mark Bowen.

Initially, on Saturday, August 7, the sheriff’s office reported a group of adult kayakers was at Phinizy Pond when one of the adults went into the water and could not be located after some time.

According to Georgia DNR, a group of people was doing a cross-country orienteering type event,” Georgia DNR Game Warden Brian Hobbins told NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Jones. By definition, orienteering is a competitive sport in which participants find their way to various checkpoints across rough country with the aid of a map and compass, the winner being the one with the lowest elapsed time.

One person went out to set up a course. Another person in the group had to follow it. They’d laid the course out and at one point of the course, they either had to wade about waist-deep mud for a couple of hundred yards or swim across the big pond in the management area, he shared.

A couple in the group entered the water and didn’t make it probably 30, 40 yards offshore before the gentleman went down. A couple of other people there tried to dive down to get him but the depths in the water where he was recovered early Sunday afternoon were anywhere from 10 to 17 feet, so they wouldn’t get to him, the game warden added.

Sgt. Hobbins added that the victim was a 32-year-old male. His identity has not been released.

Although there are a lot of alligators and snakes in the pond, his body was recovered intact without any marks.

Family members told officials that he was a decent swimmer.

“It’s hard to say if he cramped up or just panicked but there was no attack by an alligator or anything like that,” Sgt. Hobbins added.

Count on NewsChannel 6 for more information on this developing investigation. 

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