Local News

Pair tried to save man drowning in Benson lake

Posted July 25, 2012 4:50 p.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2012 6:25 a.m. EDT

— It should have been fun in the sun at Benson's Tucker Lake Wednesday as Laura Baer celebrated her daughter's birthday with friends.

But around 3:30 p.m. Monday, the fun was brought to a halt when Laura Baer suddenly heard a man in the water screaming for help.

"I ran in the water, thinking he needed help, and I didn't see anybody struggling or anything, so I got out of the water to try to get help," Baer said Wednesday.

Heather Smith, at the lake with her children, too, also heard the cry.

"I turned around and yelled," she said. "At that point, all of the lifeguards descended upon that area into the water."

The man in trouble was Clifford Lee, 24, of Fayetteville.

"It seems the water was very dark in that area, very hard to see. A lot of vegetation was in the water," Smith said.

Someone finally found Lee and pulled him to shore.

"Somebody started doing chest compressions, but no one was doing rescue breaths, so I started doing CPR," Baer said.

It was about 15 minutes before paramedics arrived, the women said.

"We just said some prayers and tried to comfort him as best we could," Smith said.

"I never found a pulse," Baer said. "He never took a breath."

Lee had been swimming with his fiancée in the lake's swimming area off Allens Crossroads Road.

She made it to shore, but, investigators say, Lee, for some reason, went under.

"I just keep replaying it over and over in my head. Could I have done something differently?" Baer said. "In my heart, I know I did all I could do."