Body of missing boater recovered from Great Pee Dee River

Stephen Ashley Murray

A boating accident Saturday night has resulted in the death of a Darlington County man.

Stephen Ashley Murray, 49, of the Mont Clare community in Darlington County, was pronounced dead Monday morning after crews recovered his body from the Pee Dee River, according to Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee.

An autopsy scheduled for Tuesday morning revealed that Murray drowned. Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee ruled that Murray's death was an accident, and that Murray drowned after the boat he was driving overturned.

Murray and another man were boating on the river Saturday night around 11 p.m. when they were thrown from the boat after hitting a log, according to Palmetto Rural Fire Chief Tommy Spivey.

The other boater was able to swim to shore but lost sight of Murray.

Spivey said crews started searching just after 9 a.m. Sunday.

Murray's body was found about 50 feet away from where the boat capsized.

Spivey said Murray was not wearing a lifejacket.

"It was in the boat when we recovered the boat yesterday (Sunday). The equipment was there, but it just wasn't being worn," he said.

Robyn Beacham, Murray's stepdaughter, said she thinks her stepfather would be alive today if he had put on his lifejacket.

"If you go fishing, wear your lifejacket. Don't make the mistake and think that you know the waters. Because you don't I mean nobody expects to go fishing and never make it back home to their families," she said.

Several departments are helping in the search including Hartsville Fire, Darlington County Sheriff's Office, Darlington County Fire District, Cheraw Rescue, West Florence Fire and the Department of Natural Resources.

This incident remains under investigation by the Darlington County Coroner's Office, Darlington County Sheriff's Office, Darlington Fire and Rescue and by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

We will keep you posted as more information becomes available.