Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

July 30, 2013

Drowning death shows inland lakes' danger

TRAVERSE CITY — Public safety officials say the drowning death of a Virginia attorney on Long Lake is yet another reminder that the seemingly placid waters of northwest Michigan’s inland lakes can be just as treacherous as those of Lake Michigan.

Authorities identified John McCauley Braswell, 58, of Alexandria, Va., as the swimmer who died Friday in Long Lake. He was the sixth water-related death in the Grand Traverse region this summer and the third in an inland lake.

“I think it’s the most we’ve had in my three-county area,” said Matthew Houghton, medical examiner for Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Benzie counties.

Braswell was a partner in the law firm of Redmon, Peyton and Braswell, where he worked on real estate law and litigation. Gant Redmon worked with Braswell for 30 years and described Braswell as a family man devoted to his wife, Pauline, and daughter, Morgan.

Braswell was vacationing on Long Lake with his family. Redmon described Braswell as a strong swimmer.

“He used to swim laps and so forth,” he said. “He was not a novice swimmer.”

Grand Traverse County sheriff’s Capt. Randy Fewless said Braswell started a quarter-mile swim from Picnic Island to the mainland at the same time as a 51-year-old male relative who lived off Timbers Trail at the northeast corner of Long Lake. The relative told authorities that Braswell said he could not make the swim to shore and turned back toward the island.

“That’s the last time he saw (Braswell),” he said.

The other man continued on and made it back to mainland, then contacted authorities at about 12:20 p.m. when Braswell was not found on Picnic Island. Fewless said a dive team found Braswell’s body two hours later, submerged in 48 feet of water, about 150 yards from the island.

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