USC Upstate Student Drowns On 4th Of July

Oconee County Emergency Services says they responded to reports of a drowning at 7:20 pm Saturday at YMCA Beach on Lake Hartwell.

Fire Chief Charlie King says a man jumped off the end of a dock into about six feet of water and did not resurface.

King says firefighters and paramedics from Oconee County and Clemson University arrived on scene within seven minutes to confirm a man was still under water.

King says he spent the afternoon on the dock swimming with a large number of friends and was quickly removed from the water, then attempt at lifesaving treatment began.

He was quickly taken to Oconee Memorial Hospital by Clemson University Fire & EMS. King says the man was later taken by ground to Greenville Memorial Hospital for more advanced treatment.

According to the Oconee County Coroner’s Office, Odell Gaither, 21, died at 2:41 a.m. Sunday in CCU at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

It was reported that Mr. Gaither was a student at USC-Upstate and that he reportedly could swim.


On Sunday evening, the university released the following statement:

“The USC Upstate campus community is greatly saddened by the loss of its student, Odell Gaither, who passed away early Sunday morning.

What should have been a wonderful holiday weekend turned to tragedy and claimed the life of a vibrant young man who held the promise of a bright future. Gaither, 21, was a junior majoring in physical education and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He was from Lugoff, S.C.

USC Upstate’s thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with Odell Gaither’s family, friends and fraternity members during this extremely difficult time.”

The accident is being investigated by the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

USC Upstate released details of funeral arrangements for Gaither.

Visitation will be held Thursday, July 9th from 2 pm – 7 pm at Nelson’s Funeral Home on 270 N. Dogwood Avenue in Ridgeway, SC and again on Friday, July 10th at 2 pm at Sawney Creek Baptist Church on 14605 State Highway 34 East in Ridgeway, SC.

The service is scheduled for Friday, July 10th at 3 pm at the church.

Burial will follow Friday, July 10th in Fairfield Community Cemetery in Winnsboro, SC.

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