The body of a 33-year-old man recovered from a pond several miles north of Elgin on Monday was in the water for a week, according to Kershaw County Coroner David West.
West said county dispatchers received a call around 11:30 a.m. Monday about a body floating in the pond where Mule and Chestnut Hill roads converge several miles north of Elgin. Several agencies responded, including West’s office, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office and the rescue and dive teams from the Camden Fire Department, Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R) and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
According to Sheriff Lee Boan, people living at the pond reported the body and also said they could see what they thought was one of their boats under the water.
West later identified the victim as Randy McGee, 33, of the Elgin area.
Boan said McGee’s father was able to describe the clothing he was wearing the last time he saw his son, which matched the clothing McGee was wearing when LF-R divers recovered his body.
“He said his son took the car,” Boan said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “There was no sign of foul play.”
The sheriff said the car showed no signs of damage, no bullet holes or dents from some sort of collision. West said it appeared McGee had driven to the north side of the pond where Chestnut Hill and Mule roads converge. The coroner said at some point -- either while going in the water or after entering it -- McGee put the car in reverse.
Boan and West both said the front driver’s side window was down and that McGee may have escaped from the sinking car but still drowned. West said McGee’s body underwent an autopsy on Wednesday, and that it determined McGee died from drowning around midnight April 29, a full week before his body was spotted in the pond.
Boan said divers searched the rest of the pond and found no other victims.
Also on Monday, West reported that dispatchers received a call around 6:20 a.m. Monday about a crash where someone called in saying a vehicle was in the woods off Lockhart Road northeast of Camden.
Wood identified the deceased as Bernice Lucena-Chavez, 26, of the Cassatt area. He said Lucena-Chavez had just gotten off from work, and was driving a 2013 Ford that left the roadway as she was traveling east on Lockhart Road.
“It is still under investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Kershaw County Coroner’s Office,” West said.
As of Thursday morning, the SCHP had released no information about either incident on its media hotline.