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Alabama man drowns in Caledonia


William Browning



An Ethelsville, Alabama, man has died following a Memorial Day drowning incident in the Buttahatchie River in Lowndes County. 


Oscar Ponds, 59, was pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle at approximately 12:28 a.m. today, according to Lowndes County coroner Greg Merchant.  


Another person was also transported to BMH-GT though his name and relation to Ponds has not been released by officials. 


Authorities say Ponds and a handful of family members from Alabama were spending the day at Lawrence Bridge, a popular swimming spot near Caledonia. 


At about 3:45 p.m., one of the family members "got in trouble" with the river's undertow near a boat ramp and several others tried to help, Merchant said. 


Ponds was pulled beneath the water's surface while tying to help. Witnesses said Ponds remained submerged for roughly nine minutes before rescuers were able to pull him to safety, Merchant said. 


Lowndes County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Marc Miley said someone on scene performed CPR while emergency responders made their way to the scene. 


Ponds was transported to BMH-GT where he later died. 


An unrelated incident that also occurred Monday led to an 11-year-old boy being flown to University Medical Center in Jackson. 


Anthony Colom with Columbus Fire and Rescue said that three young boys were swimming in the Tombigbee River near the Columbus Riverwalk shortly after 12 p.m. Monday. Two of them made it back to shore. The 11-year-old did not, according to Colom. 


Two wildlife officers happened to be in the area and the two boys flagged them down. One of the officers went into the river and, after going under three times, found the child and pulled him to safety. Columbus Fire and Rescue responded to the scene. 


Colom, who did not identify the boy, said he was initially taken to BMH-GT, where it was decided that he should be flown to Jackson, where he remained in the hospital this morning.


William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.



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