Man drowns in Mississippi River chute after saving two children

DYERSBURG, Tenn. (AP) - A Ridgely man drowned after saving his son and another child who were caught in a fast current on a Mississippi River chute, authorities said.

Mike Fowler, 40, was with a group of people on Sunday afternoon at a remote slough along the river when the two children lost their footing and were swept into deep water by the current, according to a report by the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

"They stopped to cool off and the kids jumped in to take a dip and they got caught up in the current," said Deputy Angela Ballard.

Fowler was among several adults who went into the water to save the children, who were between the ages of 9 and 12, Ballard said.

"He was able to get the children by handing them to other adults and passing them on to the shore, but by the time they got them back, Mike was gone," Ballard said.

Because the area was about 10 miles away from Tennessee 79 and accessible only on foot or by an all-terrain vehicle, rescue workers were delayed about two hours.

Fowler's body was recovered around 8 p.m. Sunday, about 50 feet from where he was last seen.

Ballard said the area is popular spot for riding all-terrain vehicles, but other people have drowned there in the past.

"Thank God it doesn't happen very often. I just don't think people respect the tenacity of the river," Ballard said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)