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Friday, September 07, 2012

Summer ends on tragic note withboy's drowning

Summer started tragically at Smith Mountain Lake with the drowning of a 12-year-old girl in Penhook in June and ended the same way with the death of a 6-year-old Maryland boy on Sunday.

The drowning, the second of a child this year at SML, brings the total number of drownings in 2012 to four, according to Al Busch of Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue. With the exception of the fatalities, Busch said it has been an uneventful summer for accidents on the lake.

On Sunday, a call made at 12:26 p.m. reported a child missing in the Diamond Hill area of Goodview in Bedford County, Busch said. He reportedly had been missing for about 15 minutes when the call was made.

Busch said a coordinated effort of 40 to 50 responders, including five area rescue departments, as well as sheriff's departments from Bedford and Franklin counties and conservation police officers from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, rallied to the scene.

Search efforts on land included bloodhound dogs from the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, he said.

Sonar and an underwater camera were employed in the wate. About 3:30 p.m., two divers from the Scruggs Dive Team located and recovered the body, which was found in 10 feet of water close to the dock of the home where the family was visiting the child's grandparents, according to Busch. No resuscitation efforts were performed on the child.

The boy, who did not know how to swim, was wearing safety goggles but no life jacket, said Busch.

Recalling the agonizing scream of the mother upon watching her child's body being pulled from the lake, Busch issued an appeal to SML-area parents and grandparents.

"Please put on a life jacket and designate someone to watch the kids when they're on the water," he said. "It's so easy to get distracted. It's just a horrible situation."