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franklin county times

Russellville man drowns Sunday

BELGREEN – A Russellville man drowned Sunday while swimming to a boating ramp near Britton Bridge on Cedar Creek Lake, authorities said.

Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said Francisco Javier Chavez Martinez, 37, of Russellville, appeared to be swimming from his boat to a boat ramp about 30 feet away when he went under the water and did not resurface.

“We received a call from a witness around 12:30 p.m. that there was a man trying to swim to this boat ramp but he just went under the water,” Oliver said. “The witness said when they saw him swimming, they started to move towards him to help and then he just disappeared beneath the surface.”

Oliver said the witness stated they dove into the water to try to help Martinez but couldn’t find him so they called for help.

“After the Franklin County Dive Team arrived on the scene, it took about 45 minutes to locate his body.”

Oliver said Martinez was by himself in a kayak that had a trolling motor attached to it. Authorities located the kayak down the creek after the incident occurred.

“The witnesses did not see [Martinez] jump out of the boat or see what caused him to start swimming for the shore,” Oliver said. “We don’t know if there was an emergency or if he just stood up and fell out. At this point we just don’t know why he ended up in the water.”

Oliver said Martinez’s body would be sent for an autopsy to try to determine if there were other medical factors involved in the drowning.

“This is just a sad situation,” Oliver said. “You think you’re going out for a nice day on the lake and then this happens. My heart really goes out to the family.”

Oliver said this was the first drowning to occur this year in Franklin County. He said as far as they could tell, Martinez did not have a life jacket or other safety equipment with him at the time the incident occurred.

“Since the weather is getting warmer already this year, more people will be getting out on the water earlier than normal,” Oliver said. “You can’t stress enough how important it is to have a life jacket with you and other safety gear because you never know when something bad could happen.”

In addition to the Franklin County Dive Team, Oliver said members of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Russellville Fire Department, the Belgreen and Frankfort volunteer fire departments, the Cherokee Search and Rescue Squad and the Bear Creek Development Authority responded to the scene.