Five Drown On Oklahoma Waterways Over The Weekend

Authorities now say five men lost their lives in Oklahoma waterways over the past weekend.

Sunday, July 1st 2012, 3:09 pm

By: Dee Duren

Authorities now say five men lost their lives in Oklahoma waterways over the past weekend.

Illinois River

Arkansas resident Michael P. Wheaton Sr. drowned Saturday at Carnes Ford along the Illinois River, according to Ed Fite of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.

Wheaton was fishing from the bank while his 7-year-old daughter waded in the river. She stepped off into a deeper area of water and called out for help. Wheaton was able to get his daughter back to safety when he began to have trouble himself.

A witness went into the water to try to rescue the 42-year-old man but was unable to get him back into the shallows. His body was recovered by other people who were visiting the river, Fite said.

Turner Falls Park

The fourth drowning took place at Turner Falls Park near Davis Sunday. Christopher Seaton of Dallas was last seen going off the slide at the Blue Hole swimming area at about 7 p.m. He never resurfaced.

Seaton's body was discovered in about 12 to 15 feet of water near the north side of the swimming area between the two slides.

6/30/2012 Related Story: Deadly Day On Oklahoma Lakes And Rivers

It was after hours at the swimming area, and no life guards were on duty, according to Davis Police Chief Dan Cooper.

Fort Gibson Lake

A drowning happened Saturday night on Fort Gibson Lake.  The Oklahoma Highway says a 21-year-old man jumped off a pontoon boat, then tried to get back on board, but went under and never resurfaced. 

The OHP began a search almost immediately for Jimmie Barnett of Locust Grove.  Late Sunday evening, his body was recovered near where he disappeared. 

There were two other drowning incidents on Saturday.

Keystone Lake

Thomas Alvarez, a 17-year-old Tulsan, drowned at Keystone Lake at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

He was on a surfboard when he fell off of it and never resurfaced. His body was recovered about an hour later by the OHP.

Lake Texoma

A 38-year-old Texas man, Kenneth B. Coward, also died on Saturday on Lake Texoma just below the Denison Dam in Bryan County while rescuing two boys who were swimming near the dam.

Coward was out fishing when he saw the boys get into trouble with a strong current from the hydroelectric power plant, according to Colonel Michael Teague of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Coward was able to push the boys to safety before going under himself.

"Folks in Oklahoma help each other, I mean that's just the nature of the people here," Colonel Teague said.

"Unfortunately you put yourself in harm's way trying to help somebody else."


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