Runaway fishing boat leads to discovery of drowning victim

An empty boat circling in a Jeff Davis County fishing pond alerted a DNR ranger to a drowning Monday on Old Graham Road.

When Ranger Barry Britt noticed the runaway boat, he discovered a man in the water in distress. Britt was able to launch a boat and pull Jerry Lee Bess Jr., of Alamo, out of the water, according to a news release from the Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office.

Bess said his fishing partner, 47-year-old Garlon James McArthur, of Glenwood, was pulling up the anchor when his seat broke and sent him overboard without a life jacket. The boat rocked back and sent Bess into the water, but he was wearing a life vest, the release stated.

Divers from Jeff Davis, Coffee and Appling counties recovered McArthur’s body shortly after 6 p.m. Monday.