Risking his life to save a friend, a veteran fish and game warden drowned Sunday in southwest Alabama. 32-year old Lance Horner of Eufaula was trying to save a fellow officer in trouble on the water. Horner drowned near the Coffeeville lock and dam on the Tombigbee River in Clarke County.
Sergeant Steve James and an intern were doing lake patrols earlier in the day, checking for fishing licenses. But their boat got stuck in the corner of one of the lock gates.
Investigators say Horner was also working on the river. They say when he spotted the boat in trouble, he immediately tried to rescue them. But the currant was strong and pulled him under.
Marine police say Horner was wearing his life jacket, but he was under water too long for it to help. Crews spent hours searching and hoping for the best. But several hours later, they found Horner's body a few miles south of the dam.
His colleagues describe Horner's death as a huge loss. "That (the rescue attempt) speaks of Lance's life altogether," says Marine Police Captain Michael Patrick. "He's always trying to help others. That's why he took this job. All the officers in this area were very close to Lance. It's a great personal loss."
Horner leaves behind one child and wife, whose first husband drowned near the same dam four years ago. More than a hundred people from four counties participated in the search and recovery effort Sunday.