Beaver Lake Drowning Victims Identified

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) – The drowning victims at Beaver Lake on Sept. 1 have been identified as Sean Kelley, 21, and Wilson Laibwij, 17, officials said.

Both victims are from Springdale. Both bodies are at the Benton County Coroner’s Office.

The bodies were recovered from two different drowning sites at Beaver Lake on Sept. 1, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

The body of the first victim was that of Kelley, who was diving off a bluff at Hickory Creek Park into about 70-100 feet of water at about 5 p.m., officials said.

When he went under and did not resurface, his friends phoned 911 to report that he had drowned, according to officials. Dive teams were sent to the site near Martin’s Bluff. The body was recovered before 8:30 p.m., authorities said.  (The photos accompanying this story are from the site of the Hickory Creek Park drowning.)

Authorities later Monday night began searching for a body at a second drowning site at Horseshoe Bend in Beaver Lake, which is north of where the first drowning happened, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

In that incident, Laibwij was racing a friend in the swimming area about 7:45 p.m., when he went underwater, resurfaced, and then went under again, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Benton County Dive Team requested the help of the Carroll and Washington County dive teams to help at the Horseshoe Bend site Monday night. The teenager’s body was located after 11 p.m., authorities said.

“It was pretty challenging,” said Keshia Guyll, public information officer. “On both scenes we used sonar, which is helpful but when it comes down to it just putting divers in the water is probably going to be the best bet either way.”

The last reported drowning at the Hickory Creek Park site was in July. On July 12, Elijah Watson, 19, of Bentonville drowned in the same area. Watson swam out about 100 yards without a life jacket and was on his way back to shore when he drowned.

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