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Man falls from sailboat, drowns near Ivy Hill

SoVaNow.com / September 13, 2017
A 50-year-old North Carolina man drowned on Kerr Lake after he was thrown from his sailboat sometime Saturday near the Ivy Hill recreation area at the Virginia-North Carolina state line.

Dive teams with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police searched the lake Saturday night and most of the day Sunday before State Police divers found the man’s body around 4:40 p.m. Sunday.

There is no indication of foul play, said Sgt. K. Martin with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, adding that weather conditions likely played a role in the man’s death.

“We believe the wind may have played a part in him being thrown from the boat,” said Martin, adding that the State Medical Examiner has received the body for an autopsy.

The identification of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of family members who live elsewhere around the U.S.

Martin said he was told by family members that the man was an experienced sailboat enthusiast who had been on Kerr Lake before.

“He was well versed in sailing, but things can go wrong,” said Martin.

Two fishermen out on a boat on Kerr Lake first spotted what they believed was a body floating the water late in the day Saturday. DGIF conservation officers who arrived at the scene found the 19-foot sailboat stranded at the shore near Ivy Hill. They summoned the Sheriff’s Office Dive Team to search for the man around 7 p.m.

However, the effort was hampered by gusty winds and the search was called off for the night, resuming the next morning at 7 a.m. with the assistance of State Police divers. The VSP team found the man’s body Sunday afternoon in 84 feet of water.

The victim was apparently thrown about 50 to 75 yards from the shore.

He had gone out on the lake sometime after lunchtime on Saturday, said Martin, based on what family members have told him.

He attributed the windy conditions to weather brought on by Hurricane Irma as the storm approached the eastern U.S. on Saturday and Sunday. There were several factors “that complicated the recovery, with the potential of higher winds” being one of those conditions, he said.

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