Homeowners immediately began searching an area along the south shore of Lake Murray after a boat floated up to a dock Aug. 25 with a 4-year-old girl saying her father fell overboard, according to 911 calls made public Friday.
“We’ve got boaters out there looking for him,” one resident told a Lexington County dispatcher. “All we know is he is wearing blue swim trunks.”
The account relayed to dispatchers by homeowners who talked initially with the young girl was the first suggestion that former Columbia firefighter Durham DeLaura slipped off the boat, the recordings show.
Two residents of the Panorama Point neighborhood told county and state natural resources dispatchers that the girl was safe after being alone on the boat for an unknown period.
“A small girl just floated up to our dock and says her father fell overboard into the lake,” one homeowner said in a call at 7:36 p.m.
The girl couldn’t say exactly where her father had left the boat other than it was “out there,” both callers said.
“She said he fell and kept going deeper into the lake,” one said.
State natural resources investigators estimate the girl was alone in the boat for up to an hour. She wore no life jacket, although one was in the boat, officials have said.
Homeowners found DeLaura’s wallet on the boat with his identification and address but no telephone number in it for his wife or other relatives as well as no information on his daughter.
The girl “doesn’t know her mother’s name other than ‘mommy,’” one resident told dispatchers.
DeLaura’s body was recovered Sept. 3 after a boat and air search.
Investigators found five empty beer cans on the board with six unopened ones in a cooler, officials have said.
But officials so far have no idea how long before the 35-year-old went overboard that the beer was consumed, making it unclear if consumption is directly related to him slipping.
He and his daughter were at nearby Sandy Beach earlier in the day, officials have said.