Rescue crews continue search Saturday for possible Waccamaw drowning victim

sjones@thesunnews.comJune 14, 2013 

— Officials from Horry County Fire Rescue and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources continued Saturday morning to search the Waccamaw River in Red Bluff for a man who disappeared while swimming with family and friends Friday afternoon.

A dive team from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and a crew from Horry County Fire Rescue were at the scene near the Danny Knight Boating Facility on the river near Red Bluff.

Horry County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Jim Walker said crews were called to the scene at the Red Bluff Boat Landing about 3:30 p.m. Friday for a swimmer in distress. Family members of Horry County resident James Edward “Eddie” Lee reported that he under water and never came up. A water rescue team used a boat with side-scan sonar technology and divers in the water to search for Lee near a bridge that runs over the river.

The search was called off for the night around 8 p.m. Friday and resumed early Saturday morning.

It was the second search for a person missing in water within a week.

On Friday Ian Eckert said he was swimming in the river with a friend when he noticed his mother, Saleeta “Sassy” Lee, having a seizure. He went to take care of his mother, but then he noticed that his step-father, Eddie Lee, was having trouble in the water.

Eckert, his friend and another man tried to get to Lee in the river, but were feet away when Eckert said he saw Lee go under the water.

“We were too late, he went under and we’ve been trying to find him ever since,” Eckert said from the river bank while crews continued to scan the water.

Sassy Lee, who spoke through tears, said her husband had surgery on his rotator cuff about a month ago and was doing shoulder exercises in the river water.

She said the Red Bluff Boat Landing was one of her family’s favorite spots to hang out and they frequently swam in the river.

The search for Lee is expected to resume Saturday morning.

A week earlier, crews in North Myrtle Beach spent the day searching for Anderson Estep who disappeared while surfing in the ocean near the Cherry Grove Pier. Estep’s body has not been recovered.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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