BR man drowns in Amite River

Advocate staff photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA --  Family members are ushered into a car to identify the body of Jason Hamilton Jr., whose body was found in the Amite River on Monday after he dove from an embankment and never resurfaced. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- Family members are ushered into a car to identify the body of Jason Hamilton Jr., whose body was found in the Amite River on Monday after he dove from an embankment and never resurfaced.

A 25-year-old Baton Rouge man drowned in the Amite River Monday night after jumping from a small dock in the southeast part of East Baton Rouge Parish, authorities said.

Jason Hamilton Jr., 5823 E. Crown Ave., had been swimming and drinking all day with about three friends at a camp on Horseshoe Bend Road, off Hoo Shoo Too Road, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said.

“From what we understand, they said he was floundering and calling out for help — I think they thought he was joking at the time — when he went under the water and after several minutes had passed, they became concerned and called first responders,” Hicks said.

Hicks said two others were in the water when Hamilton went under and fatigue may have been a factor in his death because they had been in the water all day.

Deputies were notified about Hamilton via 911 dispatcher at 4:10 p.m. and the St. George Fire Department, which has a station in the area, was called two minutes later.

Hicks said she could not give a cause of death until the Coroner’s Office performs an autopsy.

Divers with the Eastside Fire Department arrived shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Hicks said divers found Hamilton’s body where witnesses said it would be at 7:09 p.m. Before the dive team arrived, authorities searched the water via boat and had prepared for a night search.

Hicks said it did not appear that Hamilton was caught on anything underwater.

“It looks as though he was in a clear area about 25 feet away from the dock,” she said.

The depth of the water where Hamilton jumped in was between 9 and 16 feet deep, Hicks said, and there did not appear to be a strong current when he went under.

While authorities searched for the body, about a half-dozen family members huddled around a St. George fire engine blocking the road, trying to console each other.

Mattie Williamson, who identified herself as Hamilton’s aunt, said her nephew had an outgoing, playful personality and liked to play jokes.

She said his younger brother died about 20 years ago when he was an infant, so Hamilton’s mother would be burying her second son.

“They still taking it pretty rough,” Williamson said of the family before divers found Hamilton’s body.

She did not know if he was a strong swimmer.

Hicks said the investigation is ongoing.