Man swimming with friends in the Broad River drowns - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Man swimming with friends in the Broad River drowns

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

The body of a man was found in the Broad River around 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Crews had been searching for the man since a distress call went out around 4 p.m.

For Christian Gonzalez, a relaxing day on the water quickly turned into a dangerous river rescue.

"His head wasn't above water anymore," Gonzalez said. "There was no air bubbles. There was no ripples. There was nothing. No struggle. We couldn't find him."

Gonzalez and his friends noticed a group of swimmers having trouble.

In particular, Gonzalez says the man was bobbing in and out of water.

Gonzalez said he didn't hesitate and jumped into the Broad River to help.

"It was really quick," he said. "I mean, we did our best. We tried, and we were waiting for him to come back up where we could at least make another attempt, but, you know, the first time he went under, he never came back up."

Gonzalez said he and his friends called 911.

Minutes later, a massive search on the river.

Columbia Fire, DNR, and the Richland County all responded to search for the possible victim who Gonzalez and his friends tried to save.

"I've been a medic, and I've been in the medical field before," he said. "The only thing about it is I'm going to try not to beat myself up about it, because, you know, I've already had it come through my head a lot that, you know, I should have tried harder or I could have swam faster."

Gonzalez said the water is up to 25 feet deep in spots but for the most part it's fairly shallow.

He said one of the swimmers mentioned to him that he was not a good swimmer.

DNR hasn't yet said whether alcohol was a factor but Gonzalez has his suspicions.

"The current was super strong," he said. "By the time that we got out there, we were already tired, so, you know, if I would have got out there quick enough, he may have drug me under too."

Late Sunday, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts identified the victim as Nathaniel David King of Columbia.

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