A 57-year-old man found floating in Watts Bar Lake on Saturday is believed to have died as the result of a medical emergency rather than drowning, authorities said Monday.
Harriman resident Randy E. Bardill, of 235 Woodland Drive, likely overexerted himself trying to regain his 40-foot houseboat as it floated away from him and his sister on Saturday, Meigs County Emergency Services director Tony Finnell said.
The two were on a houseboat Bardill kept docked at the Blue Springs Marina and had traveled to the Sand Island-Euchee area in Watts Bar Lake where they decided to cool off, Finnell said.
“They jumped off to swim and the boat began to drift away,” Finnell said. “He started swimming vigorously toward the boat.”
Bardill’s sister said her brother swam until he got near the boat, then stopped swimming and began floating, according to Finnell.
He said because Bardill had a history of medical problems and the fact that people who drown take in water and usually sink, officials believe Bardill died from a medical problem.