Drowning Survivor Hopes Lessons Are Learned

Sumter, SC (WLTX) -- It was a deadly start on waterways across the Midlands for swimmers as summer unofficially began.

Over Memorial Day weekend one person drowned in Lake Marion near Eutawville and in Columbia a man drowned in the Broad River.

On Tuesday three swimmers at Lake Marion found themselves in trouble and only one of them survived.

"It was really hot, we had been riding in the car for a while and I asked the guys what they wanted to do and Leon told me we should go to the lake so we went to the lake," said Nicole Hughes.

Nicole and Central Carolina Technical College friends 21-year old Leon Dixon and 19-year old Josh Owens were just looking to have some fun and cool off on Tuesday.

She said, "We were having a ball, joking, laughing and having a good time."

The good time changed quickly in the waters of Lake Marion as all three swimmers found themselves in trouble.

"There was a really, really strong pull in the water, like it was pulling us out and we kept going under," said Nicole.

Nicole tried to save her friends as they struggled in the water.

"Josh was already under and he didn't come back up," she said.

"Leon was still bobbing and screaming for me to help him and I got on that float and started paddling the best I could, I tried to get to them, I couldn't find Josh," according to Nicole.

Nicole eventually made it safely to shore, Josh and Leon died at the scene as a result of drowning.

Now Nicole is left feeling guilty for making it out alive, but she hopes that others can learn from this tragedy that took the lives of two young men.

She said, "There's things that can happen, tides come in, dams get opened, just stay where your feet can touch, don't try to be fancy and don't get carried away with fun, be cautious of your surroundings and where you are at."

According to friends both Josh and Leon's funerals will be held on Friday, May 30th.


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