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Body of missing boater found floating in lake

SoVaNow.com / April 03, 2019
Two weeks after his presumed drowning, the body of 52-year-old Edwin Barnes was found Saturday by a boater on Kerr Lake. Barnes disappeared March 16 after falling off the back of his boat while working on the malfunctioning engine.

Sgt. Jessica Whiley with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said the discovery was called in around 11 a.m. Saturday. The body was found floating in the lake between buoys 22 and 23. Barnes was last seen near mile marker 23 and the Bluestone Creek Boat ramp outside of Clarksville.

Barnes’ wife reported him missing around 3:45 p.m., Saturday, March 16. She told authorities that her husband was trying to fix the boat motor when he fell into the lake. He was not wearing a life jacket at the time.

She conducted a brief search for her husband before calling 911.

Search teams with DGIF and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, rescue units from Smith Mountain Lake and Chesapeake, the Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department and Mecklenburg Rescue Squad searched a two-mile swath of the lake near Bluestone Creek using side scan sonar and dive teams for several days, with no results.

Whirly said it was not unexpected that the body did not surface immediately after the accident due to the temperature of the water, which was around 50 degrees at the time.

Keith Wilson, a DGIF Conservation Police Officer, told media outlets the search was complicated by the fact that Barnes’ wife was unsure of when or where her husband fell off the boat. “He went to the back of the boat and told her to keep driving as he tried to troubleshoot the [engine] issue,” Wilson explained.

Barnes and his wife Crystal owned a vacation home in Clarksville, but their primary residence is Midlothian. Barnes is survived by his wife Crystal, sons Phillip Gilliam and Mathew Barnes, and parents Sandra and Jimmy Barnes.

Whirly reminded boaters of the importance of wearing life jackets or personal flotation devices at all times while on the water, even if you’re a veteran boater or skilled swimmer.



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