Family identifies victims in Lake Marion boat accident - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Family identifies victims in Lake Marion boat accident

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ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - An annual fishing trip turned deadly for a Pee Dee family after an uncle and nephew drowned Tuesday evening on Lake Marion. 

The Graham family, from the Conway area, tells WIS News 10 they took two boats on an annual fishing trip to Lake Marion Tuesday.

Around 7:30pm, for unknown reasons, one boat started taking on water.

"One of the boats began to take in water and with all the water in the boat, the boat did swamp. And family members were tossed out of the boat," says DNR investigator Robin Camlin.

The family says 57-year-old Donald Graham drowned when the boat sank. Graham's uncle, 63-year-old Paul Graham, jumped in to help, and drowned as well.

DNR says one other person on the boat that sank had a life jacket and was saved. 

Family members say six people were on the boat that sank, and three were on the other boat.

Authorities recovered the body of one boater late Tuesday night and another early Wednesday.

Officials say Tuesday night's weather conditions affected the search and rescue operation.

"It was very, very rough," says Don McCormick.

McCormick and the kids on his camping trip were near Santee State Park caught in a storm, as winds picked up and water started rising.

"The waves are coming in the boat and it starts to fill with water," says a teenager who was on the trip.

The group was able to find refuge in calmer waters behind some trees. The Graham family, however, was not as lucky.

"Why the boat began to take on water, what led to that point. That's really what we want to know," says Camlin.

"You can be out one way and a second later, you'll be swinging the other way. Especially during a storm. Capsize you pretty easy in deep water," said the teenager.

That lesson was driven home by tragedy tuesday, and another reminder for McCormick's crew about the most basic precautions that need to be taken when traveling out into the unknown.

"Anytime you get in water with kids, adults, you need a life jacket," says McCormick.

Reported by Dan Tordjman

Updated by Jeremy Turnage

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