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Man, 41, drowns at Rock Island State Park

A Murfreesboro man drowned Sunday at Rock Island State Park after flailing his arms for help in what his friends first thought was a joke.
The victim has been identified as 41-year-old Eric B. Soriano. He is the third person to drown at Rock Island in a month. Two people died in separate drowning accidents over the Fourth of July weekend.
According to a report from the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Soriano was last seen by witnesses going under the water around 5 p.m. Sunday. His body was recovered by rescue personnel at 10:37 p.m. Sunday night.
According to the report, Soriano and his family were staying at a cabin at Rock Island State Park and had been enjoying an afternoon of swimming near Cotton Mill.
Soriano had jumped from several tall cliffs, eyewitnesses said, before he climbed atop a shorter rock and jumped in the water. He then reportedly swam a short distance from the rock in calm water and came to the surface waving his arms in the air.
After dipping below the surface, Soriano came up a second time with his arms still flailing. When he went under a second time he did not resurface.
Several eyewitnesses said they initially believed he was pretending to drown. When he didn’t surface after a couple minutes, they swam out to try to find him but were unsuccessful.
Rescue personnel from Warren, White and Putnam counties responded and found Soriano later that night.
In the wake of the drownings, Rock Island park manager Damon Graham says visitors should exercise caution in and around the water.
“It’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket no matter how strong a swimmer you are, and it’s good to avoid moving water,” said Graham. “This is an extremely rugged park and you have to respect the park and the terrain. Any moving water can be dangerous. It can sweep you off your feet even in ankle-deep water.”
Graham said it’s also wise to avoid jumping off cliffs, even though that did not appear to play a factor in Soriano’s death.
“People ask us all the time where there’s a good place to jump and we tell them there are no good places to jump into water where you don’t know what’s underneath,” said Graham. “Conditions change, rocks move, a tree can float into the area underwater. You just don’t know what can be under there.”

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