"Mitchell's Light:" Upstate woman creates foundation for drownin - FOX Carolina 21

"Mitchell's Light:" Upstate woman creates foundation for drowning victims' families

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Crews search Lake Hartwell (FOX Carolina/ July 17, 2017) Crews search Lake Hartwell (FOX Carolina/ July 17, 2017)
ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Crews are searching Lake Hartwell for a missing boater. The violent storm that whipped through Anderson County Saturday tossed a couple from their boat. The woman, Stacey Burrell was rescued and pulled to safety by people on a passing boat. However her husband, Kip Burrell has not been found.

One Upstate woman, Kelly Johnson, lost her own brother to drowning and is starting a foundation to help families like the Burrell's 

"In the movies everyone is found the same day, what I think people don't understand here is when you're in the water, it has to be a very thorough search. It has to be a slow search, and you have to have the ability when you're done to call that area 'clear,'" Johnson said. 

Kelly Johnson knows what it's like to be the one waiting at the end of that boat ramp. Looking for any news, any type of closure. Now, she's hoping to be a "go to" resource for Upstate families, providing equipment, time and information.  

 "We need the resources in our state, we have a lot of water. DNR is great,  but people don't see what they do and the funding is not always there because it's not like a sheriff's deputy that you see on the road."

She lost her brother, fisherman Mitchell Gibson, on Lake Russell just over a year ago and since has reached out to families like Burrell's when drownings happen.  "We want to be that agency, or entity, or those people, that can come out when the family says "Can you come out today?"

Her goal is to have accessible sonar equipment and the team that families turn to when extended searches are needed. She's working alongside SCDNR through her organization, Mitchell's Light, to help with extended searches along when resources are tight, or equipment isn't accessible with the goal of keeping hope alive for families affected.

Explaining DNR, Pickens, Oconee, and Anderson County dive teams are all working around the clock to bring closure to this family, but she said the agencies are limited by a certain point in time. 

"They're very limited on the time they can give out, not because they don't want to, but because it's the way it is. So being that company, that organization if we can the funding in place, we don't have a time limit," Johnson said. 

RELATED: Anderson Co. deputies release name of man missing on Lake Hartwell

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