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'Crushing loss': Longtime firefighter drowns in east Georgia lake

Interim Fire Chief Shaw Williams Jr. said that his department was in mourning upon learning of Lt. Ralph Jenkins' death.
Credit: Augusta Fire Department/EMA
Lt. Ralph Jenkins

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. — A local fire department is confirming that a drowning victim reported the previous day on a major east Georgia lake was one of their own.

The Augusta Fire Department announced on Saturday that it was "heartbroken" to learn that Lt. Ralph Jenkins had died after drowning on Clarks Hill Lake near Lake Springs Park on Friday night.

"On behalf of the entire Augusta firefighting community, I am disheartened to report this crushing loss of one of our own," Interim Fire Chief Shaw Williams Jr. wrote. "Lt. Jenkins came from a firefighting family, was known in the Department as a person who could be counted on for a good laugh, and served the people of Augusta, Georgia for 40 years."

Details of the drowning are still under investigation according to Georgia Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Mark McKinnon. He said game wardens searched from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. They resumed their search on Saturday morning around 8:30 p.m. and found Lt. Jenkins around 9:30 p.m.