By Major Scott Harden
On Friday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m., a Dixie County deputy was dispatched to the Suwannee River Bend Campground and RV Park in reference to a possible drowning. The campground is in Old Town and is bordered by canals from the Suwannee River on three sides of the campground. As the deputy was enroute and additional information was being obtained, Sheriff’s officials went ahead and requested the Dixie County Dive and Rescue Team respond.
Officials learned that the victim, Roland Keith Bonner 52 years of age from Trenton, was camping in a site next to the canal where he kept his boat docked. At this time however, the river and canal are flooded so the victim’s boat sits several yards into the water from land. It has been Bonner’s practice to swim to his boat during these flooded times after heavy rains and turn on the boat’s bilge pump to pump out the rain water. An acquaintance of Bonner’s said that he left the camper about day break Friday morning and was going to pump the boat after Thursday night’s rain. It was later that morning that some of the other campers noticed Bonner’s boat sitting very low in the water, so they boated over and pumped Bonner’s boat out. When talking with others, they learned that Bonner left that morning to pump the boat which is when they realized that Bonner never made it to the boat.
Divers with Dixie County arrived and dove the canal waters late Friday afternoon but were unable to locate Bonner. Due to the frigid water Friday afternoon, the divers returned Saturday morning with additional gear for the frigid water and began diving again around 8:00 a.m. On Saturday Dec. 22, in the afternoon, an individual called for responders in an area across the canal where river flood waters had flooded a neighborhood across from the campground. It was there that personnel discovered that the body of Bonner had floated from the canal and was under a flooded home. Bonner’s body was recovered and will be transported to the 8th District Medical Examiner’s Office in Gainesville for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Trenton Man’s body recovered
By Major Scott Harden