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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Graig Graziosi

Father dies in Virginia lake while trying to save drowning 14-year-old son

Atchley family

A Pennsylvania father and son died as the parent desperately trying to save his 14-year-old son from drowning in a Virginia lake over the Memorial Day weekend.

Around 1pm Saturday, teen Tyler Atchley was spotted struggling to stay afloat in Lake Anna, a Virginia reservoir approximately 66 miles north of Richmond.

Witnesses who spotted the boy called emergency responders for help. While responders raced to the scene, the boy’s father, Matt Atchley 42, leapt in to try to save his son, according to the Luisa County Sheriff's Office.

"It was reported that witnesses observed the father struggling, just before losing sight of him as well," the sheriff's office said in a press release. "Several people went into the water in an attempt to locate them but were unsuccessful."

Once the emergency crews arrived, officials located and recovered both the father’sand the son's bodies. They were pronounced dead on the scene.

Tyler Atchley, 14, left, and his father Matt Atchley, 42, right. The father and son died in a drowning incident at Lake Anna, Virginia, on 25 May, 2024 (Atchley family)

An investigation is ongoing, but police said in a statement that foul play is not suspected.

A GoFundMe has been established for Susan Atchely — Tyler's mother — to assist her and her family. Heidi Johnson, a relative of the Atchley's, told WTVR that both the father and the son "loved the Steelers" and called the elder Atchley a man who "loved his family dearly" and was "very humble."

The Harbor Creek School Superintendent Kelly Hess confirmed to Erie News Now the district would have counselors available to talk with students.

"It is important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and it is okay to seek help and lean on one another. Please do not hesitate to reach out to teachers, staff, or counselors if support is needed," Ms Hess wrote in a letter to parents. "On behalf of Harbor Creek, we once again extend our sincere condolences to the family on this tragic event."

The family was visiting Virginia for a graduation celebration over the holiday weekend, Fox66 reports.

The incident happened in a somewhat isolated cove on the north side of the lake, which is where private renters and lakefront homeowners typically have their properties. The south side of the lake is where public swimming and boating typically occurs, according to WTVR.

Lake Anna is approximately 17-miles long and has approximately 200 miles of shoreline, according to the county. The lake's "cold side" — it's public side — has roughly 9,000 acres, while the "hot side" — private side — has approximately 4,000 acres divided by three dikes, CBS News reports.

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