Search for swimmer ends, body recovered in river

Steve Watts
Steve Watts

Longs, SC - LONGS, SC (WMBF) – Recovery crews found the body of a Longs man approximately 13 hours after he disappeared while swimming in the Waccamaw River.

His body was found Wednesday morning and family members identified him as 50-year-old Steve Watts.

Sgt. Mike Prosser with the SC Department of Natural Resources said the body was in about 7 to 10 feet of water when a searcher on a boat saw it around 11 a.m. Wednesday. He said a current had probably moved the body from deeper water where Watts likely drowned.

Prosser said Watts and two other people were on the river bank near Watts' home at the end of Star Bluff Road late Tuesday. They were having an informal memorial ceremony to mark the anniversary of a friend and relative who died in the river several years ago, Prosser said.

After the ceremony Watts decided to go swimming, according to Prosser. Around 10 p.m. the people with Watts reported he had gone under the water and not come back up.

Search crews looked for Watts until about 1 a.m. Wednesday and then suspended the search until dawn.

"We've always grown up on the river swimming in it, so it was almost second nature," neighbor Ben Spivey said. "It's the last thing anyone would have expected."

Watts' cousin put a black bow on the stop sign at the end of Star Bluff Road as a sign of the family's grief. Spivey said Watts had a lot of family living nearby.

"The whole family's always lived in this area," Spivey said. "They all grew up together. It's kind of a pride thing that this is all their area."

The boat landing at the end of Star Bluff Road was part of the family's property. Watts lived with his mother near the landing.

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