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Four Swimming Deaths Since Weekend

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's been a tragic few days for several families going through the loss of loved ones after swimming accidents.

Since the weekend, four people in our region have died, most recently Monday night at Beech Fork.

A teen from Vinton County drowned in the Ohio River over the weekend, and a swimmer also died Monday at Grayson Lake in Kentucky.

Megan Lewis is remembering a childhood friend. She and Evan Ferguson played together growing up.
More recently, their own children had been playmates.

"We were in the same house when we were in diapers. Now he's actually gone," Lewis said.

Ferguson, just 21 years old, drowned at Beech Fork Lake in Wayne County Monday evening.

"I was really upset about it," Lewis said.

Four drownings are four too many for Gregg Mullins with the West Virginia DNR Law Enforcement division.

Mullins says the heat wave coupled with the 4th of July weekend meant a lot more people than usual have been out swimming.

"You may be a good swimmer in a pool, but then you get out in a lake, or especially a river with the undertow that you're not used to,” he said, “when something happens, you naturally react by stressing out and flopping around. You lose your momentum and go under."

He says while the heat is what brought more people to the water, it may also have been a factor in these deaths.

"The heat is going to cause issues because they're not taking enough fluids in,” he said. “When you're sitting on the bank of a river or something, you feel fine, but when you go out and are swimming, your muscles are moving and you don't have enough liquid in your body. That's usually going to start cramping your body up."

Families and friends are now devastated, never expecting summer outings would end in heartache.

A man from Buckhannon, West Virginia also appears to have drowned Saturday while swimming at Virginia Beach.

Lifeguards and bystanders pulled 43-year-old Dwight Carpenter out of the water after they say he looked like he was in distress. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.


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