Archive for Saturday, August 13, 2011

Searchers recover body of Tonganoxie man, 30, from Lone Star Lake in southern Douglas County

Dive crews, emergency responders were searching for man who was swimming at Lone Star Lake

Rescue divers recovered the body of a 30-year-old Tonganoxie man who drowned Saturday in Lone Star Lake. It is the second drowning death at the lake this season.

August 13, 2011, 2:28 p.m. Updated August 13, 2011, 11:20 p.m.


A 30-year-old Tonganoxie man died while he was swimming about 75 feet offshore at Lone Star Lake in southern Douglas County, said Douglas County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Steve Lewis.

Divers were called to the scene shortly before 11:30 a.m. and the man, identified as James Nicholas Owens, was pulled from the lake about 3:45 p.m., Lewis said.

Lewis said Owens was swimming with friends who immediately noticed he did not come up after going under water. The friends then called for help.

Brooke Crews was nearby on an inflatable raft when the man went under. She heard teenagers calling for help and yelling for someone to dial 911.

She said she didn’t think the teens knew the man but saw they were trying to save him.

“I ran my raft over there to them,” Crews said.

She saw teens using flotation devices to try to rescue Owens. She said that at one point, Owens grabbed onto one of his would-be rescuer's legs, and in his panic began to drag the teenager down with him. This forced the teen to let go of Owens to prevent being pulled down with him.

“They started diving for him until the emergency crews showed up,” Crews said.

Rescue crews from the Douglas and Jefferson county sheriffs’ offices, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical and other area agencies used boats and divers to search the water.

Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern encouraged swimmers to follow safe practices, such as novice swimmers taking lessons and wearing life preservers. He also urged swimmers to be aware of unfamiliar environments. Lone Star Lake, he pointed out, gets deep fast.

“It goes from calf-deep all the way to 15 feet in just no time,” McGovern said.

This is the second incident at Lone Star Lake this summer. A boy drowned at Lone Star Lake on July 2.


kkmessineo 6 years, 6 months ago

Was out there at the time. Friend who was with him said he wasn't the greatest swimmer. And he had been drinking.

friendlyjhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

Was it really important that you share that piece of sadness, true or not?

kkmessineo 6 years, 6 months ago

Reporters might like to know the cause.

yoornotmee 6 years, 6 months ago

I think so. Sharing that information could save someone else's life. It's like when a reporter mentions that a driver wasn't wearing a seat belt. It's cautionary.

AmyGibson1976 6 years, 6 months ago

You are so wrong. Nick swam like a fish. please verify your comments before you make them. This so called friend was not his friend. there is more to this story that is being told. i am his mom, and I know my son has swam since he was 2 years old. He may have been drinking, bit so was his "friend".

midwestmom 6 years, 6 months ago

So, so deeply sorry for your loss. I truly hope that you are able to surround yourself in the love of loving friends and family. God bless you.

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

It's an unusually hot summer, so there probably are just more swimmers this year. I don't know that there's actually a higher number, just filling in a reason why there could be. That said, even experienced swimmers can get caught in hidden debris or have something else happen.

Shaun Hittle 6 years, 6 months ago

Pywacket, There are more than usual. According to a June 29 article, there had been 16 drownings in Kansas so far, which matches last year's total.

Shaun Hittle LJW

George_Braziller 6 years, 6 months ago

The Kansas winds can whip up whitecaps pretty quickly and it doesn't take too long before you start to panic. Frantically swimming toward shore but you aren't making any progress because the waves are beating you back. Then exhaustion starts to hit you.

I'm a strong swimmer but in that situation I really thought I was going to die. I actually kissed the muddy bank when I made it back to land.

It wasn't my day to kick the bucket.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

In just about any situation, panic is your worst enemy!

George_Braziller 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, but It's an automatic hard-wired response. You don't havel it when you're in the moment. Right then you're just fighting to stay alive.

AmyGibson1976 6 years, 6 months ago

I thank your wife from the bottom of my heart. It is good to know that there is someone like her out there that will still give their all to try and save someone. Nick is my son, and we are having a very hard time with this. He has swam like a fish since he was 2 years old, and we have many questions let unanswered. God bless her.

Deja Coffin 6 years, 6 months ago

Very sorry to hear this. My prayers and thoughts go out to the family and friends of this man and also to the people that were out at the lake when this happened. It's so strange that he just went under and didn't come back up. I know we all want there to be a clear reason as to why this happened but sadly there just might not be a reason. Sometimes things happen that don't make sense. I only hope that in the days to come his family and friends can find strength among each other and down the road find peace in their memories.

George_Braziller 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes. It can happen that quickly. I'm tipping my hat to you and your wife for your efforts. I can't imagine how awful it must have been diving over and over again trying to find him.

You did what you could.

Deja Coffin 6 years, 6 months ago

I know a lot of people that grew up in Tonganoxie that are now that age. I know it's a selfish prayer and that no matter what someone's family is hurting but I do pray I don't know this person.

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 6 months ago

Tragic! Thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man. So true that each day is a gift, for we never know what tomorrow has in store for us or our loved ones. God be with them!

yoornotmee 6 years, 6 months ago

My thoughts are with everyone involved - his friends and family, the other people at the lake that day.

Deja Coffin 6 years, 6 months ago

Unfortunately it turns out my husband and a few other friends did know him. Very sad deal. My prayers are still extended to all of his friends and family during this sad time.

tsmjcc 6 years, 6 months ago

did any one know this mans name i feel sad for everyone involved my heart goes out to the family

tsmjcc 6 years, 6 months ago

did any one know this mans name i feel sad for everyone involved my heart goes out to the family

lookslikerain1 6 years, 6 months ago

something suspicious about the whole situation, I hope they look long and hard into this for the sake of Nick's family and REAL FRIENDS

pudge1 6 years, 6 months ago

Why do we thank god when things like this happen

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

Teenagers and young people in general get dissed so much for not being the fine upstanding people we were in our day---so I wanted to point out that, according to the article, it was teenagers who apparently didn't know the victim who risked their own lives to try to save him.

Sad, sad day when somebody leaves us too soon.

violetleaf 6 years, 6 months ago

Here here! Those were some very brave and good-hearted kids. I am so glad the one whose leg got grabbed was able to extricate him/herself so it wasn't a compounded tragedy. Rescuing a drowning person is very tricky and dangerous business and many have died attempting it without training, and that young person is SO lucky to be alive today. I hope and pray that the teen who was grabbed is doing OK, that must have been an overall VERY traumatizing situation for him or her. My heart really goes out to those kids, and to the family of the man who drowned. It sounds like the young man was a strong swimmer, and even though alcohol may have been a big culprit in the accidental death, drowning can happen to anyone, ultimately with mysterious causes as far as what led to that first and often fatal inhalation of water.

Kelly Johnson 6 years, 6 months ago

My sympathy to the family and friends of this man. I'd also like to say that I think the members of the dive team are brave people because it has to be really hard for them to be part of the search and recovery.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 6 months ago

This is a terrible tragedy. I used to have the Red Cross Water Safety Instructer certification and have worked as a life guard in several locations. It alway amazes me the risks that some people will take around water. Going out in a boat without a life jacket has been noted in water accidents. Going into water without knowing about the nature of the bottom under them, knowing how deep the water is, etc, is very hazardous. And of course, the proclivity of some folks to think alcoholic drink is a requirement for recreation plays a big part in such accidents. It is so very tragic when such preventable accidents happen and my feelings go out for the family of thisfellow.

lookslikerain1 6 years, 6 months ago

The "friend" huh, NEVER knew of him saying one good word about Nick. Something is wrong with this picture. Reading the story gave me a sick feeling inside. I am so sorry about this tragic loss. I wouldnt call it an "accident" quite yet, I hope they conduct an autopsy, and a full investigation. I am sure "friend" was not the DD to say the least. To Nick's mom. I pray you find out the truth so you have some peace.

KSChick1 6 years, 6 months ago

was riding around the lake while the search was going on...very sickening feeling to realize the water was empty of swimmers, saw the police and boats around the swim area, knew something bad sorry for the loss of this young man, no matter what the circumstances...I don't care if he was drinking, the penalty for drinking and swimming is not sounds like a tragic occurrence and I'm sorry for anyone who knew him...don't pay attention to the negative posters on here...someone always wants to blame the victim...and now is not the time for that your sympathy and keep your opinions to yourself...his mom is reading these comments and all you are doing is compounding the negative...please be respectful!

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