(Byrnes Mill) A man from High Ridge drowned Friday afternoon in the Big River and another man was injured after attempting a rescue. The Highway Patrol says 59-year-old Bennette Oxendine of High Ridge was swimming in the Big River at Byrnes Mill Park when the current became too swift, Oxendine began to struggle, he went under the water and never resurfaced.
66-year-old Richard Smalley of High Ridge attempted to rescue Oxendine but Smalley was pulled under the water by Oxendine, nearly drowning Smalley. Oxendine was pronounced dead at the scene by North Jefferson County Ambulance personnel. Smalley received moderate injuries and was taken to Mercy Hospital South.
In a separate incident, a rafting trip on the Big River almost turned tragic for a family Sunday afternoon. A 9-1-1 call from a woman came in at about 4:15. The woman said her husband got off their raft and into the river and found himself in trouble. He was not a good swimmer and was intoxicated. At one point, he was said to be hanging onto a limb near the riverbank to stay afloat. De Soto Rural Fire launched its boats and rescued the man. His name has not been released but authorities say he did not suffer any injuries.