Zach Baker died Saturday -– the morning of his 19th birthday –- after he fell out of a boat into a Wellington lake near 3385 Old Sulphur Springs Road.
Coroner Pat Brown said Monday that Baker fell into the water, known to some as Carroll’s Lake, after something jarred the small aluminum boat and caused the vessel to partially capsize.
Baker and two friends, who were fishing in the flat-bottomed boat, all fell into the water, Brown said.
Originally, officials believed the boat had capsized when one of the friends tried to get on the boat from the lake’s bank.
But after additional interviews with Bakers’ friends, investigators discovered all three teens were already on the boat.
Brown said it was unclear Monday what caused the vessel to partially capsize and throw the boys in the water. The coroner noted that any moderate or sudden movement could have caused the small boat to tip over.
When the teens fell into the lake, all three were wearing heavy coveralls and winter weather garments, Brown said.
The two friends managed to get to the shore and strip out of their heavy clothes.
The teens then dived back into the water to try to help Baker, Brown said, but Baker’s coveralls were heavy and had weighted him down.
A hunter was in his tree stand near the lake and, after either hearing or seeing the commotion, came to the teens’ aid.
He tried to locate Baker on the lake, while Baker’s friends ran for help.
They couldn’t call anyone to the lake right away, because their cell phones had died when they fell in the water, Brown said.
The Calhoun County Dive Team -– composed of officials from the Coroner’s Office and the Piedmont Rescue Squad -– eventually arrived at the lake and began diving for Baker.
Brown said the team recovered Baker’s body sometime around noon –- about four hours after the boat originally tipped over.
The official cause of death is listed as drowning.
Contact Star Staff Writer Cameron Steele at 256-235-3562.