Oconee COUNTY, S.C. — Members of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Dive Team made a recovery on Saturday in the search for a missing kayaker in the Martin Creek area of Lake Hartwell.
SCDNR was contacted early Saturday morning (11/6/2021) at approximately 2:30 a.m. after a group of three kayakers who left from a dock at a residence on Cartee Drive reported that a member of their party had capsized and not resurfaced. Region 1 SCDNR officers responded to the call, along with Oconee County Emergency Services.
The SCDNR Dive Team was called to the scene, led by Officer Kendall Lownsbury. Dive Team members Butler Sprouse and Ethan Adair assisted in the search, along with SCDNR Region 1 Officer Chase Stewart operating a sonar-equipped boat.
The body of an adult male recovered at approximately 11:00 a.m. after about an hour of searching in the vicinity of where the kayak capsized, within 50 yards of the shoreline in approximately 36 feet of water, said Officer Lownsbury. The recovery was made by Dive Team member Butler Sprouse. The Oconee County Coroner’s Office has identified the individual as Kellen Jerome Mackey, 26, of New Brighton, PA. Mr. Mackey was visiting the area for a wedding. He was not wearing a lifejacket. The incident will be investigated by SCDNR as a boating accident.
The men and women of the SCDNR’s “A.I.R” (Aquatic Investigations and Recovery) Team are sworn law enforcement officers specially trained in the use of diving gear. Team members participate in underwater searches for drowning victims and assist SLED and other law enforcement agencies with evidence recovery in criminal investigations in addition to their regular duties as state conservation officers in their home counties.
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