Georgetown County man drowns in Santee River; Officials recover body using sonar

A Georgetown County man drowned Friday night while swimming in the Santee River, and authorities said they found his body Saturday morning.

Witnesses saw Gene Grayson, a 51-year-old resident of the Santee community, go under and fail to resurface while swimming in the river Friday near the Pole Yard public boat landing near the U.S. 17 bridge, according to the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office. Emergency personnel responded around 7:40 p.m. and searched until 2 a.m. Saturday morning without finding Grayson's body.

Authorities resumed the search around 7:30 a.m. with the assistance of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Aviation Division, and his body was recovered around 10 a.m. Saturday.

The sheriff's office credited their side-scan sonar unit, which uses pulses of sound to create an electronic image of the water bottom, for reducing the search time Saturday morning. After using the sonar, divers found the body within 10 minutes of entering the water.

"The search time without this unit may have been hours, days or longer," the sheriff's office stated in a written release.

Most of Grayson's family lives outside the Georgetown County area, said Coroner Kenny Johnson, and they have yet to select a funeral home.