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Bachelor party guest died trying to hold his breath in Georgia lake drowning, authorities say

Bachelor party guests were competing to see which of them could stay under water the longest when one didn’t resurface.

Robert Zachary “Zach” Bunsa, 23, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, was in Georgia for the gathering at Lake Sinclair when he drowned Saturday evening, Baldwin County sheriff’s Capt. Brad King said.

“According to the report, he was trying to see how long he could hold his breath,” King said.

The sheriff’s office and Georgia Department of Natural Resources were called at about 5:40 p.m. to Annette Way near Rocky Creek, King said.

DNR Cpl. Lynn Stanford said there were about 15 men at the party when Bunsa didn’t come back up.

They didn’t initially realize he was still in the water and went up to the house to look for him, thinking he had gotten out without them seeing, Stanford said.

“He was missing for some time — over seven minutes, at least, before they realized, and one of the friends did dive down and pull him out,” Stanford said.

Bunsa was near the dock in about 5 to 10 feet of water, but visibility in the lake is about 1 foot, Stanford said.

A law enforcement officer living nearby heard the call on the radio, responded to the dock and performed CPR for 10 to 15 minutes before EMS arrived, he said.

A helicopter was called to the lake in case Bunsa could be airlifted for treatment, but he died at the scene, King said.

Baldwin County deputy coroner Foster Hurt said he pronounced him dead at 7:20 p.m.

The Centers for Disease Control warns swimmers against trying to hold their breath for long periods of time while underwater.

“This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “hypoxic blackout” or “shallow water blackout”) and drown,” stated a fact sheet about accidental drowning.

Stanford urged everyone to use caution at the lake, river and pools.

“Respect the water,” he said. “It can go wrong so quickly.”

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