Woman drowns in Lake Hartwell - FOX Carolina 21

Woman drowns in Lake Hartwell

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Emergency crews stand on the shores of Lake Hartwell while boats comb the water. (July 4, 2012/FOX Carolina) Emergency crews stand on the shores of Lake Hartwell while boats comb the water. (July 4, 2012/FOX Carolina)

A Georgia woman drowned in Lake Hartwell on Wednesday afternoon.

Many couldn't watch as a team of divers removed 33-year-old Crystal Sabrina Lester's body from Lake Hartwell Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m.

Dozens gathered near the Hartwell Dam area where Lester's body was found. She was at the lake with family and friends celebrating the Fourth of July.

"She was a real sweet mother," said Jerry Brown.

Brown is Lester's father. He cried as he talked about how much he will miss his daughter.

Divers searched the murky waters of Lake Hartwell for about 45 minutes at the Singing Pines Recreation Area in Starr before they found Lester's body. 

"She was my baby," said Brown, with tears in his eyes.

Divers with the Anderson County Emergency Response team found Lester's body in 12 feet of water. Rescue crews with Anderson County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers also responded to the call.

"You come into the world, you have to leave it. You can't judge, you can't ask the Lord questions," said Brown.

Investigators said Lester, along with family members and friends, walked in a shallow area of Lake Hartwell to an island, but on the way back, Lester stepped into a deeper area of the lake and never resurfaced.

Anderson County Deputy Coroner Don McCowan said lake levels often change.

"When you're going across this lake, right now the lake is so down that you can walk across and find yourself in a 3-foot walk and then suddenly it's drops to 12 or 14 feet deep.

Lester's family members said they will continue to rely on their faith.

"What the Lord decides to do is best," said Jerry Brown.

As some family members hugged one another, others sat in shock. Lester's brother, Jeriquces Brown said Lester was a good swimmer and was trying to help a family friend when she went under.

"She was a good, good person in general. You know, to save someone else's life to lose her life," Jeriquces Brown said.

Family members said the Fourth of July will continue to be one of celebration, a day they will always celebrate the life of Lester.

"She's been a wonderful person. She's still her with us right now," said Jeriquces Brown.

Lester lived in Athens, GA, and leaves behind four children.

This is the second drowning at the Singing Pines Recreation Area in two months.

Stay with FOX Carolina and foxcarolina.com for the latest on this developing story.

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