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Axton man dies in boating accident at Smith Mountain Lake


SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, VA – An Axton man is dead following a boat accident at Smith Mountain Lake on Friday.

Two men launched their boat from the Penhook boat ramp for a day of fishing.

35-year-old Richard Donald Haynes​ III was handling the boat and fell into the water about 25 feet away from the launch site, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources said in a release.

The boat kept drifting out into the cove as Haynes unsuccessfully tried to climb back into the boat, according to the department.

As he swam back to shore, an onlooker noticed he was struggling and jumped into the water to try and help him.

A lifejacket tied with a rope was thrown in the water by two other onlookers to try and help the two get back to shore faster.

EMS quickly performed CPR when the men arrived back at the dock.

Officials say Haynes was not wearing a lifejacket.

“We want to thank the kind citizens who were at the Penhook boat ramp that day for trying to save Mr. Haynes’ life and want to send our condolences out to his family and friends,” the department said.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Glade Hill Rescue Squad, and Cool Branch Fire and Rescue provided aid.


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