Boater drowns in Kerr Lake
A body was discovered in Kerr Lake on Saturday evening after authorities received a call in reference to a drifting boat near Bluestone Creek Boat Ramp.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Officer Matthew Sandy said once authorities arrived on scene, the boat was located and found to be unoccupied.
Sandy said there was fishing gear on board and a life vest, but the owner of the boat was nowhere to be found. After further investigation, the identity of the boat’s registered owner was discovered to be Welton Gafford, 65, of Appomattox and authorities believed he might have entered the water while trying to tie his boat to the dock.
The initial call for the drifting boat was received at approximately 6:30 p.m. and once discovering the boat to be empty, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team along with Lake Gaston Volunteer Fire Department’s Dive Team were called in to conduct an area search.
At approximately 10:45 p.m. Saturday night, Gafford’s body was recovered in a 14-feet deep area of water near the dock he was believed to be tying up his boat.
Authorities are not sure exactly what happened to cause the drowning, but as a precaution Sandy advises boaters or lake goers that there is nothing wrong with wearing a life jacket at all times even when exiting the boat or while on a dock.
Sandy said this may be the first boating related drowning of the year on Kerr Lake, but he and other VDGIF officers have witnessed at least two other incidents where a boater has fallen between the boat and the dock. Luckily in those two cases officers were in the area and able to pull them to safety. However, to be safe boaters are asked to use extreme caution as they enter or exit the water.
Unfortunately no witnesses were around during the time of Gafford’s incident to assist, but Sandy would like to thank the quick response and efforts made by the MCSO Dive Team, the LGVFD Dive Team and the Marine Core of Engineers during this tragic incident.