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A Kershaw man died Saturday evening, Aug. 18, after falling from a tree onto rocks along the Catawba River in the Bell Town community.
Robert Nichols, 43, was at Cedar Creek Reservoir’s Stumpy Pond boat landing, with several family members when the accident happened about 6:20 p.m. Saturday, said Lancaster County Deputy Coroner Tony Broome.
Nichols was diving about 40 to 50 feet from a tree into the water, Broome said. “As he was climbing the tree, he fell down against some very sharp, jagged rocks,” Broome said.
Broome said Nichols broke several ribs and injured his spine, which sent him into spinal shock and shut down his respiratory system.
Nichols then fell into the pond, where several people began searching for him.
A backwater area, Stumpy Pond is the original river bed along that stretch of the Catawba River that was diverted when Coffey Dam was built.
“One of his good friends helped pull him out of the water. Another fellow on the bank dove in and also helped pull him out of the water,” Broome said. “He was in the water a good five to 10 minutes. The water is fairly deep where he dived in.”
Lancaster County Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene, as well as members of the Bell Town Volunteer Fire Department, S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
Broome said Nichols’ family performed CPR on him until first responders arrived, though he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The official cause of death is blunt trauma, Broome said, following an autopsy completed Sunday.
“There was no water in his lungs,” Broome said. “The autopsy determined he did not drown.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416