Man drowns while swimming in Lake Monroe

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Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Monroe County - Divers have recovered the body of a who drowned Friday while boating and swimming with his family on Lake Monroe in Bloomington.

Family members huddled on the shore Friday afternoon as crews went from a rescue mission to a recovery. David Richards, a 33-year-old father of three from New Whiteland, had gone to the lake with family to swim.

"It was just supposed to be a fun day," said Richards' sister, Stacey.

But around 1 p.m., as the family swam near their anchored boat, Richards - who was not wearing a life jacket - started cramping up and went under.

"He was out in the water and his legs cramped and my brother, my other brother Shane, had on his life jacket and went to help him and his life jacket wouldn't carry both of them, so as far as I understand, he had to let him go," Stacey Richards said.

The family says Richards was a strong swimmer, but the combination of leg cramps with no life jacket and the situation turned dangerous.

"Accidents happen fast, whether you're swimming or whether you're boating, and so the key message that we tell everyone is always just put on a life jacket. It's easy and it saves lives," said Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Angela Goldman.

When Richards didn't resurface, a dozen conservation officers, along with eight members of the Monroe County Dive Team, spent nearly six hours searching an acre of water between the Paynetown and Fairfax recreation areas.

The wind made the search more difficult, so they outfitted their boats with side scan sonar to give crews a clear view of the lake's bottom. Divers found his body just before 7 p.m. Friday.

For family members, the sudden loss is tough to take.

"He was wonderful. He was a great brother," Stacey Richards said.

The DNR says Richards is the second drowning victim at Lake Monroe this season. Neither victim was wearing a life jacket.