Local News

Man drowns at Jordan Lake trying to help daughter

Posted July 11, 2015 7:11 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2015 1:05 p.m. EDT

— A 41-year-old man drowned Saturday evening at Jordan Lake while trying to help his young daughter, authorities said.

Leonard Purcell was on a family outing to the lake in Chatham County when he went into the water to help his 11-year-old daughter, who appeared to be in distress, said Charlie Peek, spokesman with the state Division of Parks and Recreation.

Purcell never resurfaced. His body was found 40-50 feet from the shoreline after authorities searched for about 10 minutes.

The girl was unhurt.

Shamica Ashford, who was visiting the lake with her family, watched as emergency crews searched for the man.

“Honestly I just prayed because I saw what happened and was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Ashford said. “They told everyone to stay out of the water while they searched and looked for the body.”

Peek said the area where Purcell went into the water is not designated for swimming, although no signs are posted. He said non-swimming areas are potentially dangerous because they contain obstructions, such as rocks and logs, that can't be seen in the water.

Safe swimming areas, which are designated with signs, have shallow, sandy bottoms and are more easily accessible to emergency crews.