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Tulsa Man Drowns After Rescue Attempts Go Wrong, OHP Says

Posted: Updated:
HOLDENVILLE, Oklahoma -

The body of a 27-year-old Tulsa man was recovered after a drowning in Holdenville City Lake on Saturday afternoon, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says.

According to an OHP report, the man did not know how to swim and was wearing a personal floatation device, but it was defective.

A boat passenger tried to rescue him, but that man had heart trouble during the attempt. Another passenger then tried to take the boat to the victim, but a ski rope got tangled in the boat’s propeller and disabled it, a report says.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Marcus Watkins, of Tulsa, was in the water with two children in front of a pontoon boat near point 15 on Holdenville Lake about 3:20 p.m. The boat began to drift away, and Watkins began to struggle and called for help, OHP says.

Steve Gamske, 56, of Holdenville, swam out to rescue Watkins, but he became tired and had to hold on to a tree when Watkins went under, according to the report. Gamske caught his breath and swam back to shore, where he began to have heart trouble, the trooper says.

Kathleen Gamske, 50, tried to start the boat and offer help to Watkins, but a ski rope got tangled in the propeller and the boat became disabled, the report says.

The boat drifted back to the north shore with the Gamskes and the two children on board and was towed across the lake later.

Watkins was recovered in 26 feet of water, floating near the surface, OHP says. CPR was administered, but he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Steve Gamske was taken to a Holdenville hospital, then transported to an Oklahoma City hospital, where he is being treated for heart issues.

Neither Kathleen Gamske nor the two children were injured, the report says.

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