Man drowns during swim on New Year's Eve


Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 10:23 p.m.
A 19-year-old Live Oak man drowned during a New Year's Eve swim with a group of friends Saturday night.
After a day-and-a-half of searching, authorities found Randy David Norris Jr.'s body in the dark waters where the Santa Fe and Suwannee rivers intersect.
Suwannee County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Ron Colvin said two officers from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office's sonar unit flew up to Suwannee County to conduct the search with their equipment. They located the teen about 3:45 p.m. Monday.
Norris and several others already swam the width of the river once that night to reach the Gilchrist County shore, Suwannee County Sheriff's spokesman Travis Meeks said.
"On the return swim, the 19-year-old became tired and went under," Meeks said. "One of the other young people tried to help him but it put him in a bind."
He said he didn't know the distance across the river at the point where the people made their crossing, but thought it would take five to 10 minutes to swim it.
In addition to the Pinellas and Suwannee units, agencies involved in the search included a dive team from Taylor County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Meeks said.
His office got a call for help at 11:57 p.m. New Year's Eve and was on the scene about midnight, he said. There was no indication that alcohol was involved in the drowning, he said.

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