Mississippi River drowning victim identified

Tipton County Drowning

(WMC-TV) – The Tipton County Sheriff's Office identifies the young man who drowned in the Mississippi river as Ricky Eugene Free, 28, of Henning, Tennessee.

The man died after swimming with friends north of John's Boat Dock in western Tipton County.

Chopper 5 was over the scene just moments after the call came in around 6 p.m. Thursday.

Emergency officials said Free and two other young men were resting on a sandbar when Free decided to swim across the channel to another sandbar. He made it there but on his way back, he ran into trouble.

"He knew he was in trouble, because he was calling for the two other boys with him," said John Wilkins. "They asked me to help because they couldn't get to him."

"Tipton County Emergency rescuers are here along with medical personnel and deputies are trying to recover the body from the river," said Chief Bill Daugherty of the Tipton County Sheriff's Department. "It is secure but it's in a difficult location, the bank is steep, lots of rock in the area and the ground isn't stable."

The two other boys are safe. Tipton County deputies say this should be a lesson to everyone. The Mississippi River is very dangerous and it is not a place for swimming.

The victim was also known as Ricky Eugene Watson.

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