Reporting Maggie Newland
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A family get together turned tragic Sunday afternoon after a man drowned in a NW Miami-Dade lake.
The family of Jeremy Sawyer, 24, said he went into the lake behind the family’s home at 1420 NW 143rd Street during a family gathering and didn’t resurface.
Family members told CBS4’s Maggie Newland they tried to save Sawyer. His brother Jawan Sawyer and cousin Angelo Coaxum jumped into the water.
“I tried to get in there, tried to jump in there and save him. I had him right here in my hand, the water’s just too deep for me too,” said Jawan Sawyer who added, “You can’t see nothing at all and it’s so deep. There’s only so much you can do.”
A neighbor saw the struggle and swam across the lake.
“He came from the other side and swam from over there to try to get my nephew out of the water,” said Valerie Adams. “Thank you from me and my family we really, really thank you.”
Despite their efforts, they couldn’t save him. By the time rescuers pulled Sawyer out of the water, his brother said he’d been under water 10 or 15 minutes.
The loss was devastating. Sawyer’s family said he recently had a stroke and surgery, but he didn’t let that slow him down.
“He had a stroke because of his sickle-cell and he’d been recovering ever since and he’s been dealing with it,” Coaxum explained.
A cousin described him as “very family oriented.” He loved music and played sports in high school. His family said he was focused on getting better.
Now some family members wonder whether Sawyer’s medical issues played a role in his death. His brother said his arm would sometimes lock up which would have made it difficult to swim or get out of the water.
Adams says when she tried to call 911, her phone had no service. A number of family members had the same problem. T-Mobile customer service confirmed there was an outage affecting South Florida on Sunday afternoon. The family was able to find someone with a different service provider who did get through to 911.