Missing boater's body found

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

An avid boater and fisherman with a season pass to Clayton County's reservoirs apparently drowned Tuesday while loading his boat onto his trailer, police said.

Lt. Tina Daniel said Erwin Brown, 66, of Jonesboro was found about 1 p.m. in the J.W. Smith Reservoir on Northbridge Road in Hampton. The body was taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for an autopsy, but Daniel said Brown's death appears to be accidental.

"Unfortunately, it seems like it was a terrible accident," she said. "There appears to be no foul play, just that the boat got away from him."

Witnesses told police Brown was at the reservoir "all the time" and loved to fish and boat. Brown was seen at the ramp about 9 a.m., preparing to load his boat, said Daniel. At 11:20 a.m., witnesses reported seeing his truck still at the ramp, with the driver's side door open and the engine running. The boat had drifted away from the ramp and was lodged in the lake's bottom, close to the shore.

Police and fire officials responded to the 911 call and began searching for Brown. Daniel said his body was found about 1 p.m.

"The fire department encourages people to swim or boat in pairs to attempt to minimize this type of accident from happening," said Daniel.

-- Kathy Jefcoats