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Two men found drowned at Lake Varner

Two men died while fishing on Lake Varner, in what the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is calling a boating incident, Thursday evening.

According to DNR Public Affairs Officer Mark McKinnen, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) dive team was called to Lake Varner after witnesses saw a boat capsize and two men fall overboard. The DNR, the lead organization in the investigation, was notified of the incident at 7:09 p.m.

The men have been identified as Jimmy O’Neal Anderson, 41 of Monroe and Willie James Evans, 59, of Athens.

An autopsy will be performed at the state medical examiner’s office, but at this time the incident appears to be an accidental drowning and no suspicion of foul play is suspected, according to Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis.

“It appears to be an accident, as of right now,” Davis said.

“They were fishing and somehow at some point the boat capsized and both men ended up in the water and both drowned,” McKinnen said.

The DNR has the boat and will be investigating why the vessel capsized. Because the vessel was on the water and not anchored or tied up when the deaths occurred, the incident is classified as a boating incident, according to McKinnen.

According to Davis, who began working with the Newton County Coroner’s Office in 2002, this is the first drowning on Lake Varner in at least 14 years.