Friday, May 30, 2008

Swimming Devil's Lake for $50

This is just depressing. Bryn Mickle of The Flint Journal reports:

"A $50 bet turned tragic Wednesday afternoon when Reginald Johnson of Flint tried to prove he could swim across Flint Park Lake.

"Johnson, 45, was watching a dog fetch a stick from the lake when he bet a group of men on the shore that he could swim across, witnesses said.

"With the attempt being taped by a video camera, Johnson apparently stripped down to his underwear about 4:50 p.m. and jumped into the lake near Stewart and Fleming roads commonly known as "Devil's Lake."

"But onlooker Yahel Collins, 26, said Johnson made it only about halfway across before he began flailing and yelling for help.

"'I told him not to do it,' said Collins."

"The man with the dog threw the stick toward the victim in hope that the dog would chase after it, but Collins said the victim dipped under the water and scared the dog off when he popped up again.

"Another onlooker tried to swim out to Johnson, but Collins said that man made it only a short distance before he had to turn back to shore.

"The victim sank a second time and never surfaced, said Collins.

"'Then he just sank down,' said Catherine Naranjo, a nearby resident who was fishing at the lake and watched the episode unfold.'

"The incident angered some at the scene, including one unidentified man who blamed the bettors for egging the man on.

"'They shouldn't have done (it),' the man shouted. 'You can't swim across Devil's Lake.'"

"The men taping the attempt apparently left the scene before police arrived.

"The Genesee County Sheriff's Department dive team and Flint firefighters searched the lake's murky waters for more than four hours Wednesday. Just as searchers were about to call off the search about 9:50 p.m. Wednesday, a diver found Johnson's body in the middle of the lake.

"A man who identified himself as the victim's brother said the family would decline comment.

"Police said Johnson lived in a neighborhood near the lake on Canniff Street."

ABC 12 video coverage is available here.

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