Houston & Peach

Drowning man had his hands up in the water as others tried to reach him, witness says

A young man drowned in the lake at Lake Vista Apartments in Warner Robins early Saturday.
A young man drowned in the lake at Lake Vista Apartments in Warner Robins early Saturday. bpurser@macon.com

Sheree Ross and her mother, Betty Singleton, along with other family members, were awoken early Saturday to a commotion outside their Lake Vista Apartment building.

They went to the bank of the lake outside their apartment to see what was happening.

“He had his hands up in the water and he was yelling, ‘Help! Help!’ “ Singleton recalled.

At least three people were in the water trying to save the young man as he floundered about midway across the lake in the dark. One had nearly reached him when he went under for the last time, they said.

Responding Warner Robins police officers at 2:21 a.m. also tried to save the man.

“They dived right in without hesitation,” Ross recalled.

One removed his bulletproof vest and utility belt carrying his gun first, but the other officer dove in with everything on, including his shoes, Ross said.

“He didn’t want to give up,” Ross said of one of the officers. “Even after 45 minutes, he was still trying to find him.”

The Warner Robins Fire Department’s dive team had also arrived on scene. A diver with a rope around him that was held by a firefighter on shore found the body, Ross said.

At that point, tenants of a the sprawling complex along the lake were told by authorities to go inside, Ross said.

The family continued to watch from inside their apartment as a body bag was submerged under water “out of respect for the family” to recover the victim and then brought ashore, Ross said.

The victim was identified as 20-year-old Stacey Jackson, according to a Warner Robins police news release. Jackson was pronounced dead on the scene at 4:25 a.m., said Houston County Deputy Coroner Lee Dixon.

Kerry McKenzie, 53, a civilian worker at Robins Air Force Base, said he had just left his apartment when he drove up on numerous emergency response vehicles with lights flashing about 4:30 a.m.

A firefighter told him that there had been a possible drowning.

“Another tragic death of a young person,” said McKenzie, who is also a minister. “He’s not going to experience the life that God gave him.”

Multiple no swimming signs were posted along the bank of the lake.

Anyone with additional information should contact Detective Justin Clark at 478-302-5380.