Authorities say a Conway woman drowned after a freak accident caused a boat she was riding in to capsize.
The Coast Guard said Tuesday that the body of 60-year-old Delores Jones of Conway was found a mile away from the accident site in Winyah Bay.
A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Georgetown was conducting training when they spotted a capsized 16-foot recreational boat with a man on top of the vessel at 11 a.m. The man, identified as 66-year-old James Jones, told the Coast Guardsmen that the boat’s anchor line got caught in the propeller and when he tried raising the outboard engine to free the line, the vessel became unstable and capsized, throwing him and his wife into the water.
Jones said he was initially trapped under the vessel, and when he surfaced his wife was drifting away. He told his rescuers that he could not swim and that neither he nor his wife was wearing a life jacket. He said Delores had been in the water for about 25 minutes before the crew arrived. The Coast Guard said James Jones did not need medical attention.
Coast Guard watchstanders immediately launched another boat from Station Georgetown and a helicopter crew from Air Facility Charleston to search for Delores Jones. The watchstanders also asked boaters in the area to keep a lookout for the woman.
A few minutes later at 11:20 a.m., mariners on board a a commercial salvage vessel reported that they had found a woman’s body. James Jones identified the body as his wife. Georgetown County Coroner Kenneth Johnson said there were no signs of foul play on Jones’ body.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their family, friends and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” Sean Shrum, Coast Guard Sector Charleston command duty officer said in a statement. “It’s heartbreaking for all the responders involved when an accident ends in tragedy.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Bowes of Station Georgetown said James Jones was lucky the Coast Guard boatcrew found him when they did because the tide was coming in and the vessel he was on top of likely would have been submerged by noon, leaving him with nothing to hold onto.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is conducting an investigation.