A Columbus man who drowned while fishing with two friends Thursday just south of the dam at Lake Oliver has been identified, authorities said Friday.
The body of Manold Solis-Perez, 52, was recovered in about 20 feet of water shortly before 5 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m., said Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Charles Newton. New guidelines do not require an autopsy when there are witnesses to a drowning, Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said.
Solis-Perez, a 44th Street resident of Columbus, lived near the area where he and friends were fishing and drinking alcohol which may have been a factor in the drowning, Bryan said. He disappeared about 2:30 p.m. while taking a swim in the Chattahoochee River.
Newly acquired sonar equipment helped divers with the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services locate the fisherman. Battalion Chief Keith Watson said about 15 rescue personnel were on the scene, including four divers, when two divers in the water found the body using the sonar. It was the first time the equipment was used after the rescue squad trained with it on Wednesday.
“We were lucky to have witnesses down there,” Watson said. “We tried to get the witnesses to stay on the scene. They pretty much stayed over there to help us find him.”
The divers had been in the water about 90 minutes before the body was picked up on a bottom scan of the river. “It’s like a sonar you would use on your fishing boat,” he said.
To reach the area, rescue personnel traveled up the Chattahoochee Riverwalk to the two fishermen who were in the boat. One angler tried to reach the man before he apparently drowned.