News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

2 men, girl from Georgia drown in East Alabama lake

EDWARDSVILLE (AP) — Two men and a girl from Georgia drowned in Coleman Lake after one of the men apparently decided to swim across the lake with the child.

Cleburne County Coroner Rudy Rooks said a search team found the body of Alexis Hembree, 4, of Bremen, Ga., around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Searchers recovered the bodies of Marcus Allen Smith, 24, of Temple, Ga., and Shannon Vanwinkle, 27, of Bremen, Ga., on Thursday not far from where witnesses said they were last seen.

Smith was walking along a trail beside the lake with a group that included Vanwinkle, the child, and the child's mother Wednesday when they tried to swim across the lake.

When Smith reached the middle of the lake, which is about 100 yards across, he started to struggle and called to Vanwinkle for help. All three drowned in the middle of the lake.

"(The men) were found in about 14 feet of water, and it's probably the deepest part of the lake," Rooks said. "It's a mountain lake, and there is a stream that runs through it, but it's not swift."

Rooks said no signs of foul play were evident, and toxicology results weren't immediately available.

"He was a good swimmer," said Smith's mother, Jodie Richardson.

The Smith family said the men's wallets were found near the lake. They didn't think alcohol was involved in the accident.

"He wouldn't have done that anyway because he's always been really safety conscious around the lake," Richardson said of Smith.

The lake is located in the Talladega National Forest and was closed to the public after the drownings until further notice.


Information from: The Anniston Star,

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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