Fayette County

Woman drowns in Lexington; ‘I couldn’t get out there,’ rescuer says

Update: Coroner releases name of woman who drowned in Lexington reservoir despite rescue attempts

By the time Brandon Ray, 32, ran into the water Wednesday afternoon, the woman had already gone under.

The woman in her 20s was trying to swim Lake Fontaine behind Lakes Edge Condominiums when she became tired, said Ray from the scene Wednesday as more than a dozen Lexington Fire and Rescue personnel searched the water.

Ray was on his balcony overlooking the water around 5:30 p.m. when he saw the woman begin to struggle about a quarter of the way into her swim. He yelled to her to turn around.

“She kept swimming for about five more seconds and she wasn’t going anywhere,” Ray said. “I ran down and kicked my shoes off and made it about halfway to her. I couldn’t get out there.”

Out in a boat at the time were Diana and William Rogers, frequent visitors of the lake. They saw the woman go under but were too far away to help her. The couple also recalled seeing a friend of the woman fishing in a boat as well.

“She went down and we didn’t know where she was,” William Rogers said. “The lake isn’t very deep. Where she was, there was a drop-off.”

Diana Rogers did not know the woman well but remembers seeing her around Lakes Edge.

“She was happy-go-lucky,” Diana Rogers said. “She was always smiling.”

The maximum depth of the lake is roughly 20 feet, said Ben Warren, 36, the president of Lakes Edge’s housing association. Warren received a call shortly after the woman went under and gathered his boat to bring down to the water. He and a friend dived for about 30 minutes until the fire department arrived.

Warren remembers the woman telling people in the community the day before that she had wanted to swim across the lake.

“Her friends discouraged it. They took her seriously and told her not to do it,” Warren said. “It’s terrible. No matter how strong a swimmer you think you are, don’t do it and don’t do it alone.”

The woman’s body was found and pulled from the water at 8:30 p.m., said Lexington Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Best.

“This is the first drowning of 2017,” Best said.

Fayette County coroner Gary Ginn confirmed that the death was because of drowning. The woman has been identified but her name won’t be released until her family has been notified, Ginn said around 8:45 p.m.

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader