Two drown in Homochitto

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2001

MEADVILLE — Two Franklin County High School students drownedMonday afternoon while swimming on the Homochitto River,authorities said.

Coroner Percy Peeler said Elijah James McDonald, 15, and DeonCarradine, 14, both of the Bunkley community, were caught in acurrent and pulled underwater while on an outing with several otherstudents. The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. about 13 to 14miles south of Meadville near Bunkley.

“That’s a treacherous place there,” Peeler said, mentioning deepholes, shifting sand and river currents. “The Homochitto can bedeceiving.”

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The sheriff’s department received a call about the accident at5:05 p.m., and authorities began a recovery operation. Peelerestimated the hole where the students drowned to be about 18 to 20feet deep, and there was a strong under current that pulled thebodies from the accident site.

“Divers were having problems with the currents,” Peelersaid.

Peeler said McDonald’s body was recovered around 10:20 p.m.while Carradine’s body was pulled from the river a little beforemidnight.

“It’s just a tragedy,” said Peeler, who mentioned otherdrownings in the state this year. “You hate to see young peoplelose their lives.”

Peeler said authorities are trying to talk to the other studentsin the group outing.

“We’re still trying to piece everything together,” Peelersaid.

Divers from several area counties participated in the recoveryeffort.

“We’re very appreciative of all the help we had from thesurrounding counties,” Peeler said.

Tyler Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements for McDonald andCarradine. Arrangements are incomplete.